Pope Francis

TIMELINE: The life and times of Pope Francis


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TIMELINE: The life and times of Pope Francis

10 YEARS. Pope Francis smiles during an exclusive interview with Reuters, at the Vatican, on July 2, 2022.

Remo Casilli/Reuters

Pope Francis marks the 10th anniversary of his election as pontiff on March 13

VATICAN CITY – Following are some of the major events of the life and ministry of Pope Francis, who marks the 10th anniversary of his election as pontiff on March 13.


December 17: Jorge Mario Bergoglio is born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of Italian immigrants.


December 13: Ordained a priest.


July 31: Becomes head of the Jesuits in Argentina.


May 20: Appointed Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires.


February 28: Appointed Archbishop, Primate of Argentina. He becomes famous for commuting to work on public transport, not living in the archbishop’s palace and cooking his own meals.


February 21: Appointed a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.


April 19: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elected pope after four ballots, takes the name Benedict. Subsequent leaks show that Bergoglio came second in all the secret ballots.


March 13: Bergoglio is elected pope after the shock resignation of pope Benedict. He takes the name Francesco (Francis) and is the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.

July 8: Makes first pastoral trip outside Rome, visiting the Italian island of Lampedusa and condemns the “globalization of indifference” to the plight of migrants.

July 29: During his first news conference onboard the papal plane, Francis says: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” – seen as the most conciliatory attitude to LGBT people by a pontiff.

November 26: Calls for a deep renewal of the Church in a major document (apostolic exhortation) setting out his papacy.


February 24: Creates a new body within the Vatican to coordinate economic and administrative affairs.

May 24-26: Visits the Holy Land. He becomes the first pontiff to lay a wreath at the tomb of the founder of modern Zionism. He also prays in front of the Israeli security wall that is despised by Palestinians.


June 18: Releases first papal document dedicated to the environment, the encyclical “Laudato Si,” urging world leaders to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”


April 8: In a document on family life, Francis urges priests to be more accepting of divorced or remarried Catholics and to welcome single parents and LGBT people. But he rejects the notion of same-sex marriage.

June 26: Says Christians owe apologies to LGBT community and others who have been offended or exploited by the church.

November 2: Tells reporters the Catholic ban on female priests is forever.


January 2: Pope Francis says in a letter bishops must show zero tolerance to clergy who sexually abuse children. He begs forgiveness for “a sin that shames us.”

June 28: Cardinal George Pell, appointed Vatican economy minister by Francis, is charged with multiple historical sex crimes in his native Australia. He is initially convicted in December 2018, but then found not guilty in April 2020 on appeal.

July 1: In major shake-up, Francis replaces Catholicism’s top theologian, a conservative German cardinal who has been at odds with the pontiff’s vision of a more inclusive Church.


January 30: Just days after defending a Chilean bishop accused of sex crimes against minors, the Pope sends top sexual abuse expert to Chile to investigate. In April, Francis says he made “grave mistakes” in handling the Chile crisis, asks forgiveness.

May 18: In unprecedented move, all Chile’s bishops offer to resign after attending crisis meeting with Pope Francis. In coming months he accepts many of the resignations.

July 28: Accepts resignation of US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In February 2019, Francis expels him from the priesthood after the Church finds him guilty of sexually abusing minors – the first time a cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse.

August 25-26: Visits Ireland, says Church failure to adequately address “repugnant” clerical child abuse crimes in Ireland is a source of shame for Catholics. He begs forgiveness.

August 26: A former top Vatican official, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, accuses the Pope of knowing for years of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal McCarrick; says Francis should resign. Months later, the Vatican accuses Vigano of calumny.

September 22: The Vatican signs a landmark agreement giving it a long-desired say in the appointment of bishops in China. Critics label the deal a sellout to the Communist government.


February 21: Pope opens an unprecedented four-day meeting with Catholic leaders from around the world on child sex abuse. Calls for “concrete and efficient measures” to tackle the abuse.

April 19: Meets South Sudan’s previously warring leaders and kisses their feet. Urges them to not return to a civil war.

May 24: Appoints women to a key Vatican department for the first time. In January 2020, he appoints the first woman to hold a high-ranking post in the Secretariat of State. In August 2020 he appoints six women to Vatican finance council. In November 2021 he names a woman to the number 2 position in the governorship of the Vatican City. In March 2022, he introduces a reform saying Catholic women could in future take charge of most departments.

June 2: During a visit to Romania, the Pope asks forgiveness in the name of the Catholic Church for the mistreatment of the Roma people.


February 12: In an apparent victory for conservative clergy, the Pope dismisses a proposal to allow some married men to be ordained in remote areas of the Amazon.

March 7: The Pope cancels all regular public appearances because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Planned trips are also cancelled. On March 27, he holds a solitary prayer service in the vast, empty St. Peter’s Square.

September 24: The Pope fires Italian Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu from powerful Vatican post after accusing him of embezzlement and nepotism. Becciu denies wrongdoing. He is indicted for alleged financial crimes in July 2021.

November 5: Shakes up running of Vatican funds after London property scandal.

December 31: Suffering a flare-up of a sciatica condition that causes pain in his right leg, the Pope misses New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day services – the first time health problems caused him to skip major religious events.


January 11: Pope Francis, in another step towards greater equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church, changes Church law, saying they can serve as readers at liturgies, altar servers and distributors of communion.

January 21: A Vatican court convicts Angelo Caloia, a former head of the Vatican bank, on charges of embezzlement and money laundering, making him the highest ranking Vatican official to be convicted of a financial crime.

March 5: Resuming trips after the COVID crisis, Francis makes first visit by pontiff to Iraq.

July 4: Has surgery to remove part of his colon, spends 11 days in hospital to recuperate.

July 16: In blow to conservatives, Francis overturns the decisions of his two predecessors and reimposes restrictions on the old-style Latin Mass preferred by traditionalist Catholics.

October 29: US President Joe Biden says after meeting the Pope that the pontiff had told him he was a “good Catholic” who can receive communion, widening gulf with conservative prelates.


February 25: Departing from protocol, the Pope visits the Russian embassy to the Vatican to relay personally his concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the following weeks and months he repeatedly calls for an end to the war and grows increasingly critical of Moscow for launching the invasion.

July 24: Starts six-day visit to Canada where he repeatedly asks forgiveness for sexual abuse at schools for indigenous children run by Catholic orders.

December 31: Pope Benedict dies in the Vatican monastery where he had lived since his resignation in 2013.


January 11: The conservative Cardinal Pell dies in Rome. It is later revealed that he had penned an anonymous 2021 memo condemning Francis’s papacy as a “catastrophe.”


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