10 years of Pope Francis: 10 quotes in a papacy of mercy

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2023 12:21 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2023 12:22 PM

A decade ago, the cardinals of the Catholic Church chose José Mario Bergoglio, then cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, as the 266th pope in a long line of succession beginning from Saint Peter. 

Pope Francis was elected on March 13, 2013, after his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, renounced the papacy, a first since the Middle Ages. 

From his first appearance at the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica, Francis made sure that his pontificate would center around one word — misericordia, meaning mercy. 

Choosing his papal name after one of the greatest saints of the Church — Francis of Assisi — was a signal of what would be the direction of the papacy under his helm: mercy for the poor, sinners, and even non-believers. 

His episcopal motto, contained in his papal coat of arms also spoke of mercy: "miserando atque eligendo." It was taken from the 21st homily of Saint Bede that spoke about the calling of Saint Matthew: "He saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him." 

In 2015, the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas declared a special Jubilee of Mercy so that "the Church may render more clear her mission to be a witness to mercy." 

For the past 10 years, Pope Francis spoke of mercy in his various homilies and speeches from Rome to other parts of the world. He also strove to show it in many of his actions, including washing and kissing the feet of prisoners and non-Catholics, campaigning for the rights of immigrants and refugees, and calling for the protection of the environment. 

As a look back to his decade as Bishop of Rome, here are the top 10 quotes from Pope Francis that define his "pontificate of mercy."


Fresh from his election, Pope Francis in 2013 released an apostolic exhortation that declared his vision for the Catholic Church. 

The pope rallied his fellow churchmen for "pastoral conversion," to meet the people in the streets while criticizing the excessive emphasis on centralization and bureaucracy in the Church. 


Before becoming the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis had years of pastoral experience that catered especially to what he called "the peripheries." He often visited penitentiaries and drug rehabilitation facilities. He often reminded believers and non-believers that God is like a father always waiting for the return of his children with love and compassion. 


With perhaps one of the most controversial quotes of his entire papacy, Pope Francis shocked the world with what appeared to be a major shift in the Catholic Church's approach when it comes to issues concerning the LGBTQ community. 

This was the pope's response when he was asked about the "gay lobby," allegedly a group of homosexual churchmen within the Vatican.

Recently, the pope also called for the decriminalization of homosexuality. 


Pope Francis has been known as especially fond of the youth. Here, the pontiff encouraged the young people to go out and meet the world. He said the youth should "dream freely" and approach life with vigor, even if it meant taking risks and making mistakes. 


Earning the moniker "The Green Pope," Francis has been praised by environmentalists for including ecology as one of the pillars of his pontificate. 

In 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical "Laudato Si," which focused on the care for the natural environment while also attending to the plight of the poor. Here, he emphasized the shared responsibility of all people to protect and take better care of "our common home."


This was the pope's response when asked by former street children during his visit to the Philippines why God allows children to suffer. 


In his message of mercy, Pope Francis also emphasized the need to accompany the Christian journey with joy. 

As men and women of Christ, the pope said being hopeful must always prevail. 


Francis's pontificate was also marked by the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As the virus unleashed deaths and suffering, the pope once again called for mercy, especially for the most vulnerable sectors of society. 


Pope Francis also consistently reminded the faithful that seeking mercy also meant seeking forgiveness and being forgiving. 

At one point, the pope also said that forgiveness is a human right. 


Though applauded for his undeterred approach to calling out even fellow churchmen, Pope Francis has also earned the ire of some critics within the Vatican and the Church itself.

One particular point of criticism was his denunciation of what he called a "self-referential Church" that is inward-looking. 

He said the Catholic Church must find a new balance instead of being too "obsessed" with issues such as abortion, contraception, and homosexuality lest it risks collapsing "like a house of cards."

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