Vatican City. On February 11, a whole world was struck with astonishment when Pope Benedict XVI announced his intention to resign. Not since 1294, when pious Celestinus V retired to a monastic cell, had a pope voluntarily left his post. As an official reason, Benedict stated his failing health, something that had not previously prevented popes from fulfilling their duties. But Benedict probably realized that in his fragile state he could not cope with the convulsions and scandals that have shaken the Vatican.
On March 13, according to Countryaah, 76-year-old Argentine Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected new pope, the first overseas pope of 1,300 years, and the first pope with Jesuit background. He took his Pope Francis name after Saint Francis, who placed the poor and the peace at the center. The Pope’s unassuming personal way of life conveys a clear message: his intention is to lead a church that identifies with the poor.
As a first step towards renewal, Francis replaced the Vatican’s “second man”, the secretary of state, whose role is almost comparable to that of a prime minister. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was allowed to go, was associated with the old age and had not made himself known as a reformer. In the context, the replacement became the young, 58-year-old career diplomat Archbishop Pietro Parolin.
During his first year, Francis also seriously dealt with the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank’s business following the representative of Benedict’s more half-hearted attempts at reform.
Great media attention was drawn to the times during the year that the pope expressed his views on sexual morality issues. In an interview, the pope wanted the church to show more mercy on moral issues. He said that the church has hung up too much on issues related to homosexuality, divorce and abortion. The Church’s doctrine on moral issues is firm, but according to the Pope, the individual’s own situation must be taken into account to a greater extent from a human perspective.