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Rome Reports

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Six years since Pope Francis' first papal homily: a look back at his initial priorities


Six years have passed since Pope Francis' initial papal Mass. How did his first homily predict the future of his pontificate and highlight his priorities as the bishop of Rome?

1. CARE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

One surprise of his homily was his emphasis on protecting the environment. 

POPE FRANCIS
March 19, 2013
“Let us be 'protectors' of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature.”

This theme has been a constant of his pontificate. October 2019 will mark a synod on the Amazon and in 2015, Pope Francis published one of his main papal documents on the care of nature, Laudato si'.

In this document, Pope Francis not only asks to use natural resources responsibly, but he also asks to respect the indigenous people, who depend on the environments where these resources are located. He recently remembered it.

POPE FRANCIS
March 8, 2019
“Those living in areas such as the Amazon and Arctic help protect nearly 80 percent of the planet's biodiversity.”

2. CARE OF OTHERS

The other aspect that Pope Francis touched on in his homily is caring for one's neighbor, not only those most in need. 

POPE FRANCIS
March 19, 2013
“Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service.”

Throughout his pontificate, this has been one of his most voiced points. Serving one's neighbor puts an end to what he calls "the throwaway culture." During the 2016 Jubilee of Mercy, he impacted the world with Masses celebrated with the sick, imprisoned and homeless: the people society normally discards.

POPE FRANCIS
June 12, 2016
“The world does not become better because only apparently 'perfect' people live there (I say 'perfect' rather than 'false') but when human solidarity, mutual acceptance and respect increase.”

3. CULTURE OF TENDERNESS

Pope Francis concluded his homily at his initial Mass with this thought.

POPE FRANCIS
March 19, 2013
“We should not fear kindness, tenderness.”

On other occasions, he mentioned the concept of “care therapy.”

POPE FRANCIS
February 15, 2016
“The therapy of affection is very important. Sometimes a simple caress does wonders for someone's recuperation.”

March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph, the protector of the Holy Family. Thus, the pope repeated the concept that every Christian must imitate him and be a protector of the world and the people around him or her.