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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis: five years, five important gestures


The writings and homilies of a pope indicate much about his papacy. Also his international presence and work within the Vatican demonstrate a large part of his mission.

Thus, Pope Francis’ actions transmit a more direct message than any encyclical ever could. It is in this "encyclical of gestures" that the richness of his papacy lies.

1 - THE LEAST

From the first minute of his pontificate, he made it clear that the sick or poor have priority in every public meeting. As an example, he has eaten lunch with them several times and some of his hugs with the sick have gone viral.

2 - WOMEN

Pope Francis was the first pope to visit a female prison. He also washed the feet of several inmates on Holy Thursday and visited ex-prostitute victims of the mafia. He has firmly denounced labor abuse and sexual exploitation, especially facing women.

POPE FRANCIS
"Today I apologize to all of you. For all the Christians, Catholics, who have abused you."

POPE FRANCIS
"None of us is a ‘thing.’ We are all people."

To him, the sensibility of women and motherhood are two key elements that he asks both the Church and the world to rediscover. He says we must give women a greater role in the Church, but this does not mean ordaining female priests or deacons.

3 - DESTROY WALLS, BUILD BRIDGES

This is one of his most political gestures, but it sends a very Christian message.

During his visit to Bethlehem, the pope surprised the crowds by getting off the popemobile and praying before the wall built by Israel.

Something similar happened in Mexico when he prayed at the border that lines with the United States. These are two places with different problems, but both symbolize the great lack of dialogue that the pontiff is constantly calling out. 

4 - SIMPLICITY

Pope Francis impacted the world by his simplicity. He presented himself to the world without boasting, nor did he try to hide his weaknesses that have come with age. He wears orthopedic shoes and had to buy new ones in 2016. To do so, he went to a normal business outside the Vatican. It was the same when buying his glasses, which he bought like any citizen from an optician in the center of Rome.

5 - CLOSENESS

This is a gesture composed of hundreds of small actions, which are performed every week when he lets youngsters take a selfie with him, when he drinks mate or when he jokes with those he meets. 

They are the small, but continuous daily gestures that crown him as one of the most-valued people in the world.

The latest poll conducted by Gallup International reveals that Pope Francis is the most-esteemed world leader, with 56 percent acceptance, seven points more than the second in the ranking: German Chancellor Angela Merkel.