Politics & History
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Pope Francis's Greatest Achievements, Ranked

Updated February 19, 2020 5.9k votes 1.0k voters 44.5k views22 items

Since being elected to the Holy See in March 2013, Pope Francis has gone on an unprecedented spree of reform, liberalization, and outreach. In the process, he's accomplished an enormous amount, breaking bureaucratic logjams, increasing accountability, and refocusing the Church's role in ministering to those in need.

What has Pope Francis done? To start, the pontiff has achieved a great deal by living simply, speaking his mind, promoting frugality, and working for peace and justice. While his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was seen as an ineffectual doctrine enforcer, Francis has tried to do away with or change doctrine that no longer applies to a 21st century Catholic Church. Pope Francis makes the news regularly with his latest reforms and proclamations. He's simplified annulment rules that have been overly complicated for centuries, threatened to shut down the Vatican Bank if it didn't embrace transparency and reform, and moved toward liberalizing the Vatican's stances on homosexuality, the environment, and the economy.

In the process, he's angered many American conservatives, conservative Catholics around the world, and traditionalists who feel he's going too far, too fast. But the reforms continue apace, and likely will for Francis's entire papacy. If you don't know much about Pope Francis, this biography outlines his most controversial achievements, and is the perfect place to learn more about his history, opinions, and ethos. Then you can decide which of Pope Francis's reforms and achievements you think are his best to date.

  • 1

    Increased Accountability In Sex Abuse Scandals

    Francis has taken a number of steps to crack down on the sex abuse that was rampant in the Catholic Church. He set up an eight-member committee to advise him on how to respond to the abuses, and has met with abuse victims on numerous occasions. He has also defrocked several bishops involved with sex crimes.

    Is this a great achievement?
  • 2

    Denounced Human Trafficking

    Francis has denounced human trafficking and people smuggling in much harsher terms than his predecessors, calling it a disgrace, a crime against humanity, and a humiliation of those affected by it.

    Is this a great achievement?
  • 3

    Tackled Financial Corruption In The Vatican Bank

    Shortly after his election, Pope Francis created a Secretariat for the Economy to address waste, fraud, and incompetent accounting in the Vatican Bank. He even threatened to shut the bank down if it didn't become more transparent.

    Is this a great achievement?
  • 4

    Embraced Interfaith Dialogue

    Francis has advocated good relations between the Catholic Church and Jewish and Muslim leaders since the beginning of his papacy. He's also attempted to heal schisms in Christianity, some of which are centuries old.
    Is this a great achievement?