Pope Francis will celebrate his first Christmas tomorrow as the leader of the Catholic Church.
Since his election in March, the Pontiff has garnered interest for his more progressive perspective and unique relationships both in and outside of the church. He’s attracted attention for living in a Vatican guesthouse and for speaking out on everything from breastfeeding to LGBT issues -- he was named The Advocate’s Person of the Year.
In his first Christmas message to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis focused on professionalism, service, and holiness. He also paid an informal visit to his predecessor, Benedict XVI. For tomorrow’s ceremony in the Vatican, Pope Francis is expected to light a candle for peace in the Apostolic Palace.
How might Pope Francis’ first Christmas impact his relationship with the Catholic community? In what ways has the Pope changed the perception of Catholicism? How might he continue to shape and transform Catholicism in the coming year?
Father Thomas Rausch, T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount University
Jennifer Hughes, Associate Professor of History at UC Riverside