- Title: Pope Francis possible contender for 2019 Nobel Peace Prize
- Date: 23rd September 2019
- Summary: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FILE - JULY 2013) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WEARING RAINCOATS TAKING PHOTOS POPE'S SHOES POPE STANDING UP AND HUGGING PRISONER
- Embargoed: 7th October 2019 18:46
- Keywords: Pope Francis Nobel Peace Prize Vatican City
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- Country: Various
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA008AYGBAYV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pope Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, is among the contenders for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
The first Pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit pope, Francis was also the first in six centuries to take over the helm of the Church in the wake of a resignation of another pope - Benedict XVI.
He shook up the Vatican with his simple style and moved to restore credibility to a Roman Catholic Church rattled to its core by financial and sexual scandals.
From his very first informal words and gestures on the night of his election on March 13, 2013, Francis endeared millions and in the course of his papacy, many lapsed Catholics said they returned to the Church because of him.
"Brothers and sisters, good evening," were his first words from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, choosing to eschew the traditional opening salutation "Praised be Jesus Christ!" preferred by his predecessors.
He took the name Francis - the first time a pope has done so - in honour of St. Francis of Assisi, the saint associated with peace, simplicity, concern for the poor, and respect for the environment.
Keen observers also noted that the new pope, who would make poverty a hallmark of his office, had shunned the crimson, fur-trimmed papal "mozzetta", or cape, and also was not wearing a gold cross but had decided to keep around his neck the same, faded silver-plated cross he used as archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Gone too were the lush red leather "shoes of the fisherman" used by his predecessors. He opted instead to keep the same simple black shoes he always wore.
The grandson of Italians who emigrated to Argentina during the Depression, he was born into a middle-class family in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936.
Bergoglio became a priest at 32, nearly a decade after losing part of a lung due to respiratory illness and quitting his chemistry studies. Despite his late start, he was leading the local Jesuit community within four years, holding the post of provincial of the Argentine Jesuits from 1973 to 1979.
Once elected Pope, Francis set the example inside the walls of the tiny city-state where some cardinals lived like princes in large, frescoed apartments served by a staff of nuns and monsignors.
He renounced the spacious "papal apartments" on the top floor of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and never moved out of the modest Vatican hotel where he and the other cardinals who entered the conclave of 2013 were billeted in simple rooms.
The Santa Marta (St. Martha) residence, a modern residence with a common dining room that has the feel of a seminary for the training of priests, substituted the Apostolic Palace as the nerve centre of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church.
The bullet-proof papal limousine, a Mercedes, was sent back to the Vatican's garage and Francis was seen being driven around Rome in what could be classified as a working man's car - a simple blue Ford Focus with no security features.
In his papacy Francis made a big push to use the power of his pulpit and Vatican diplomacy to bring international issues to centre-stage. He met with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, American Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. As a keen footballer he also warmly hugged Maradona when he met him at the Vatican.
He issued dozens of appeals for the rights of refugees and appealed to every European parish and religious community to take in one migrant family, starting in the Vatican itself, which took in two families. As some European nations built walls, he forcefully criticised countries that closed doors to migrants.
Francis often acted as a mediator for peace. In April, the Argentinean pontiff brought together South Sudan's previously warring leaders and, in a dramatic gesture ending an unprecedented retreat at the Vatican, knelt to kiss the feet of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel leader Riek Machar.
He also revolutionised the way a pope communicates to ordinary people, becoming known as the "cold call pope" for his penchant for calling up people direct and unannounced, usually after they had written to him about a problem or heard that they had been touched by tragedy.
"This is Francis," were the words stunned and incredulous people heard on the other end of the telephone line. "Really, this is Pope Francis".
With his informal and friendly way of communicating with faithful, Francis also introduced a new familiar way to end his Sunday's speeches, wishing the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square "a happy Sunday and a good lunch".
(Production: Fabiano Franchitti, Oriana Boselli)
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