In June, Pope Francis called for change in politics and people’s lifestyles to save the planet in his encyclical “Laudato Si (Praise Be), On the Care of Our Common Home,” the first papal document dedicated to the environment.
Francis’ proclamation generated angry reactions among political conservatives in the United States, but it was hardly his first controversial statement.
Here is an overview of Francis’ views on different issues — in his own words.
On Climate change:
“The time to find global solutions is running out. We can find adequate solutions only if we act together and unanimously,” Francis said in a written message to Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s minister of the environment and host president of the 20th U.N. Climate Change Conference.
“An effective fight against global warming will be possible only with a collective and responsible answer” that is “free from political and economic influence,” he said.
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?” We must always consider the person,” Francis said in an interview published in America magazine in September, 2013.
On gay priests:
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he told reporters on the return flight from Rio de Janeiro after his first foreign trip to Brazil in July, 2013.
On hitting children:
“One time, I heard a father say, ‘At times I have to hit my children a bit, but never in the face so as not to humiliate them,’” Francis said in February 2015. “How beautiful, he knows the sense of dignity. He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”
On birth control:
It’s not true that to be a good Catholic “you have to be like rabbits,” Francis said in January, 2015, on his way home from the Phillippines. He said that “responsible parenthood” requires that couples regulate the births of their children – not by using birth control but as church teaching allows. “God gives you methods to be responsible,” he said.
On women’s role in the church:
Speaking to an Italian women’s organization in January, 2014, Francis praised women for “their sensitivity and intuition toward the other, the weak and the unprotected,” and said that women should be a bigger part of the church because of their “gifts of delicateness, special sensitivity and tenderness.”
“When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything,” Francis said. “But that is not so. He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.”
On the Big Bang Theory:
“The ‘big bang,’ that today is considered to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative intervention of God, on the contrary it requires it.”
Who is Pope Francis?
“I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner,” Francis said in an interview published in America magazine in September, 2013.
“Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve. Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”
Lena Masri, an intern at Reuters, is a journalist based in New York City. She has previously worked for the national Danish daily Berlingske and the Danish radio station Radio24syv.