This is a big day for the Catholic Church, as it marks the one-year anniversary of Jorge Mario Bergoglio taking the Papal Office. Since first putting on that tall goofy-looking hat and white robe 365 days ago, Pope Francis has had an incredible year, making regular headlines and winning the internet for being the least Pope-like Pope to ever Pope.
You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to recognize that Pope Francis is good at his job and generally trying to make the world a better place. In celebration of his one-year anniversary, here are some of Pope Francis’ most standout moves and moments.
1. Cutting down on costs.
While other Popes embraced the the gold trimmings that come with the position, Pope Francis has opted for a more low-key Papacy. That means not wearing the traditional red shoes, staying in the guest house instead of the papal apartments and NOT traveling in the bullet proof Mercedes.
He didn’t just cut costs himself, he urged Cardinals to reconsider their clothing which can cost upwards of $30,000.
2. The Pope doesn’t shy from those who might be shunned by others.
In 2013 the Pope showed compassion to Vinicio Riva with an embrace and a kiss. Riva suffers from a non-infectious genetic disease, neurofibromatosis type 1, that unfortunately is often met with social ridicule. The Pope’s embrace caught many off guard, including Riva:
“He didn’t have any fear of my illness,” he said. “He embraced me without speaking … I quivered. I felt a great warmth.”
3. Breaking curfew.
The guy isn’t afraid to bend the rules or leave his ivory tower. Archbishop Konrad Krajewski has said that Pope Francis has made a habit of leaving the Vatican at night dressed as an ordinary priest to feed Rome’s poor and minister to the homeless.
4. Cold call Pope.
Pope Francis was all about taking time out of his busy schedule to cheer people up who were going through a rough time in 2013. The Pope earned a bit of a reputation for cold-calling those who wrote to him in distress. Among those who received a personal call from Pope Francis were an Italian woman who was being pressured to have an abortion, a rape victim, and Michele Ferri, a 14-year-old boy who had lost his brother in a gas station robbery.
5. He’s challenged Catholic attitudes on homosexuality…
The Catholic Church has a history of not being the most open-minded organization, but Pope Francis’ statement that Christians have no right to judge or ridicule homosexuals (or anyone for that matter) led to The Advocate, a gay rights magazine, naming him the “single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people.”
6. …He’s also challenged organized religion’s views of atheists.
There’s always been a rift between those of religious faith and those that hold no belief, but with Pope Francis it all really boils down to whether somebody is a good person, telling people to obey their conscience. In a letter he wrote to Italian liberal daily La Repubblica, Pope Francis said:
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, is when one goes against their conscience,” he added. “To listen and to obey to (one’s conscience) means to decide oneself in relation to what’s perceived as good and evil. And this decision is fundamental to determining the good or evil of our actions.”
7. Embracing his followers and those who don’t follow him.
Pope Francis showed the world last March that he wasn’t just a Pope for Catholics, but a role model to the world with his visit to Casal del Marmo jail for minors. During a service at the juvenile detention center he washed and kissed the feet of 12 youth offenders just as Jesus’ offering of humility to his apostles on the night before his crucifixion. The Pope broke Papal tradition when he washed the feet of both women and Muslims. What can you say, Pope gonna do what the Pope gonna do!
8. The guy broke 1,000 years of tradition.
Speaking of breaking tradition, when Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio took the role of Pope, he became the first non-European to hold the position in over 1,000 years.
9. The first Pope to take selfies.
Okay, maybe not the most world-changing thing a Pope can do, but at the same time, it’s pretty cool the guy can be this down to earth.
10. The guy is a friend to bikers.
He was never trafficking crystal with the Sons of Anarchy, but Pope Francis is a friend to Harley riders and even owned a hog himself. That motorcycle sold earlier this year at auction for $327,000 along with a leather jacket autographed by the pontiff going for $77,000. Proceeds from the auction went to benefit a hostel and soup kitchen at a train station in Rome.
BONUS POPE: Did the Pope drop an F-Bomb?
Last week the Pope accidentally muddled “caso” (“case”) with “cazzo” (“f*ck”) during a Sunday mass. You rascally rascal of a Pope, somebody needs to keep an eye on you.