Pope Francis’s Greatest Hits So Far

Pope Francis arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on September 18, 2013 .
Voted for Obama. Photo: TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

Rookie of the year Pope Francis pleased the world’s heathens today when he told America magazine that the Catholic Church “cannot be obsessed” with only the most conservative, polarizing doctrines. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” he said. “I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

It’s just the latest in a string of totally reasonable and of-the-time statements that have people who usually care not at all about what the Church thinks wondering if Francis is “the best pope ever.” He is certainly on a hot streak, if you consider sounding somewhat liberal hot.

He seems even more of a free-thinker than I thought — creative, experimental, willing to live on the margins, push boundaries back a little bit,” America’s editor told the Times, which noted “the chameleon-like Francis bears little resemblance to those on the church’s theological or political right wing.” Behold:

1. Directly following his selection in March, Pope Francis came right out and said it doesn’t even really matter if you’re Catholic: “Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.”

2. Right away, he also called on the Church to handle all of the lingering sexual abuse cases and appointed a Vatican reform board.

3. In May, following a factory collapse in Bangladesh, he spoke out against “slave labor” and in support of those struggling financially, sounding almost socialist. “My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centered mindset bent on profit at any cost,” he said.

4. On homosexuality and gay priests, Francis said, “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized.” He added, “When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”

5. There was also that accidental exorcism:

6. Francis put in place new laws in Vatican City that outlaw sexual violence and child pornography (about time?).

7. And he called for “mutual understanding between the world’s Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice.”

8. Francis has even earned the nickname the “cold-call pope,” for picking up the phone and personally dialing Catholics in need — a pregnant woman, a mourning man — who’d reached out to him.

The best part is, it’s working: Six months in, 79 percent of Catholics view him favorably, and just 4 percent unfavorably. Keep it up, pope!

Pope Francis’s Greatest Hits So Far