In more than two years as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis has not shied from expressing his views on a great variety of issues.

The pope has many ways to talk to the world’s people, including his @Pontifex Twitter account with 20 million followers. His speeches, homilies, teachings, messages and, recently, his encyclical on climate change are parsed for evidence of his thinking on crucial issues, such as poverty, marriage, divorce, homosexuality, and the role of women in the church. Since his election in 2013, pilgrims and the curious have flocked to Vatican City to see the popular pope, who greets them in St. Peter’s Square, often at general audiences where he teaches, prays, and blesses the crowd. The scene is frenzied, as visitors seek his attention—and are frequently overwhelmed when they receive it.

 

1264-01
“Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God! War is not to be waged in the name of God!”

Pope Francis
October 8, 2014, speech, St. Peter’s Square

 

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“Women in the church are more important than bishops and priests.”

Pope Francis
June 28, 2013, interview, on a flight to Rome

 

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“Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits — but no.”

Pope Francis
January 19, 2015, interview, on a flight to Rome

 

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“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful … I see the church as a field hospital after battle.”

Pope Francis
September 30, 2013, interview, America magazine

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“I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation.”

Pope Francis
October 1, 2013, interview, La Repubblica newspaper

 

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“Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’ If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal.”

Pope Francis
June 5, 2013, general audience, St. Peter’s Square

 

1264-07

“Perhaps you were mad, perhaps plates flew, but please remember this: never let the sun go down without making peace! Never, never, never!”

Pope Francis
February 14, 2014, speech, St. Peter’s Square

 

1264-09

“Do you open your hearts to the memories that your grandparents pass on? Grandparents are like the wisdom of the family, they are the wisdom of a people.”

Pope Francis
October 26, 2013, speech, St. Peter’s Square

 

1264-10

“True love is both loving and letting oneself be loved. It is harder to let ourselves be loved than it is to love.”

Pope Francis
January 18, 2015, speech, Manila, Philippines

 

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“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads … to those who have quit or are indifferent.”

Pope Francis
September 30, 2013, interview, America magazine

See more coverage and Dave Yoder’s photos in National Geographic magazine.

 

This feature originally appeared in National Geographic.

 

 

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