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WORLD | 12-03-2023 09:01

Key dates in Pope Francis' 10-year pontificate

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit and Latin American pope, on Monday marks 10 years as the head of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit and Latin American pope, on Monday marks 10 years as the head of the Catholic Church. Below are some key dates in his papacy.


– March 13, 2013: Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected 266th pope, succeeding Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down. He chooses the name Francis in reference to Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor.

– July 8, 2013: Francis chooses the Italian island of Lampedusa, a major gateway to Europe for migrants, for his first voyage as pope where he castigates the "globalisation of indifference." Three years later in 2016, Francis will bring back 12 families from a migrant camp in Lesbos, Greece.

– July 11, 2013: Launches a reform of the Vatican's penal code to fight sexual abuse against minors and corruption within the Church.

– July 29, 2013: Francis signals a more tolerant church when he says on a flight back from Brazil that "if someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?"

– December 22, 2014: To an audience of stunned cardinals, he delivers a speech listing the "15 diseases" plaguing the Roman Curia, the Church's central government.

– June 18, 2015: Francis publishes his second encyclical, Laudato Si' dedicated to environmentalism. The letter urges action against climate change.

– February 12, 2016: An historic meeting with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, comes nearly 1,000 years after the schism between the Eastern Church and Rome.

April 11, 2018: Francis acknowledges "grave errors" in his handling of child sexual abuse cases in Chile and asks for forgiveness.

– September 22, 2018: Francis announces the first-ever agreement between China and the Holy See over bishop appointments.

– February 4, 2019: In Abu Dhabi, he signs an historic document on human brotherhood with Sunni Islam's highest authority, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.

– February 16, 2019: Francis defrocks former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whom the Vatican found guilty of sexual abuse against minors and adults.

– February 21-24, 2019: Francis convenes a Vatican summit on sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

– February 12, 2020: He dismisses a proposal for married men as priests and women deacons in the Amazon, where clergy are scarce, disappointing progressives.

– March 27, 2020: In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Francis delivers an Urbi et Orbi address alone in a deserted St Peter's Square. 

– September 24, 2020: Francis accepts the resignation of powerful Italian cardinal Angelo Becciu, accused of embezzlement linked to an opaque Vatican property deal in 2013 resulting in millions of euros in losses. 

– October 4, 2020: The pope publishes his third encyclical, Fratelli tutti, on fraternity and social friendship that is particularly critical of "neoliberal dogma". 

– October 21, 2020: In a documentary, Francis says he is in favour of same-sex civil unions.

– March 6, 2021: During the first ever papal visit to Iraq, Francis meets the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. 

– July 4, 2021: Francis undergoes successful colon surgery and leaves the hospital after 10 days. 

– July 16, 2021: He publishes an apostolic letter that limits the use of the celebration of mass in Latin, provoking the anger of conservative Catholics. 

– February 25, 2022: Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Francis pays an unusual visit to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See to express his concern over the war to the ambassador.

– June 5, 2022: Francis' new Apostolic Constitution comes into force, which completes the reorganisation of the Curia and the decentralisation of the Church. 

– July 24, 2022: He arrives in Canada to personally apologise to Indigenous survivors of abuse at schools run by the Church from the late 1800s to the 1990s. 

– January 5, 2023: Francis presides over the funeral of Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square.


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