Why Pope Francis Is Different From His Predecessors

ABC News
Why Pope Francis Is Different From His Predecessors
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Why Pope Francis Is Different From His Predecessors (ABC News)

Pope Francis is the man.

That's the sentiment being expressed just nine months after becoming pope in March of this year.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed today that 92 percent of American Catholics view Pope Francis favorably, as do 69 percent of all Americans.

The church's popularity as a whole is even up along with Francis' popularity: 95 percent of Catholics think the church is moving in the right direction, up 26 percent from 10 years ago.

Check out more photos of Pope Francis.

Even MTV loves the pope. How often do you hear that?

And today, Pope Francis was named Time magazine's Man of the Year. So what makes this pontiff so different from his predecessors? Take a look at some of the moments we've picked out from his first nine months in the Vatican that set him apart.

Pope Francis has started sending out his chief alms-giver, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, and the Swiss Guard out into Rome slums at night, according to the AP.

There are even reports that the pope has gone out with Krajewski to do the work. Krajewski said "When I say to him 'I'm going out into the city this evening,' there's the constant risk that he will come with me," when asked about the pope accompanying him.

Before he was a priest, Pope Francis worked as a bouncer at a club, the Catholic News Service reported last week. Pope Francis told a crowd of parishioners outside of Rome on Dec. 1 about his work as a bouncer. He also worked sweeping floors and running tests in a chemical laboratory as a teenager, according to the report.

During a mass in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 26, Pope Francis was joined by a young audience member who climbed onto the altar and stood next to Francis.

While others tried to lure the little boy back to the audience, Francis patted him on the head and propped the boy up on his own chair before continuing on with his homily.

The photo of the boy clinging to Francis's leg and sitting on the papal chair was published by media outlets around the world.

The bubble-like popemobile and limousines that were used to drive Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II around the Vatican were shunned by Pope Francis in favor of this small used Renault car.

The 30-year-old car, which had some 186,000 miles on it, was a gift from an Italian parish priest, Rev. Renzo Zocca, who had used the car to help people in poor neighborhoods. Zocca gave the car to Francis shortly after he became pope, and the pontiff began driving himself around the Vatican in it almost immediately.

The pope's sense of humor has been a hallmark of his outreach to those inside and outside of the church.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis joined a newly married couple in donning bright red clown noses and posing for pictures in St. Peter's Square. The couple were volunteers with a charity that brings clown performances to sick children.

Days after he was elected to become the next pope of the Catholic Church, Francis went down to the front desk of the hotel where he'd stayed for the election and paid his hotel bill, according to Reuters. The gesture was broadcast around the world as a sign of the new pope's humility. Rather than relying on aides to help take care of official business or drive him around, Francis has made a point of taking care of things himself.

While Pope Francis's humble actions have earned him acclaim, his statements on church doctrine have caused ripples throughout the church. Here, a photo of Francis was snapped during an interview with journalists aboard the papal plane after a trip to Brazil, in which he made surprising remarks about gay people, women in the church, and divorcees.

"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem," the Pope said, according to the National Catholic Register.

On Sunday, Nov. 17, the pope appeared at his studio window in St. Peter's Square holding up a box designed to look like medicine but containing rosary beads, according to AFP. Volunteers handed out thousands of the boxes to visitors in the square.

"I now want to suggest a medicine," he said, according to the report. "'What?' you ask, 'the Pope is now a pharmacist?'"

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