This Thursday, we are throwing it back to all the times Pope Francis has caused major controversies with his comments.
These are five controversial moments when the leader of the 1 billion-member Roman Catholic Church grabbed headlines with his statements.
1. “Who Am I to Judge?”
In 2013, Pope Francis got into trouble with conservative Catholics for his answer when asked about homosexuality.
During an interview after the 2013 World Youth Day event, the Holy Father said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Afterward, LGBT publication, The Advocate, awarded the pontiff their person of the year award.
Despite this controversial statement, Pope Francis was later quoted in 2014 saying, “the complementarity of man and woman … is at the root of marriage and family.”
2. Stop being “obsessed” with abortion and gay marriage
The article read: “Six months into his papacy, Pope Francis sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic Church with the publication of his remarks that the Church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics.”
The article was titled: ‘Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control.’
His statements were later put in context by a Catholic writer named professor Paul Kengor who wrote, “I see the word ‘obsessed’ in there, but not quite the same way The New York Times and other liberal/progressive enthusiasts see it and have run with it full speed, full throttle.
“Liberals and liberal Catholics and secular progressives will run hog-wild with Francis’ remarks, exaggerating and exploiting them for their completely contrary ideological, political, and cultural purposes.”
3. Everyone can go to heaven including atheists
In September 2014, Pope Francis caused a stir when he allegedly claimed that atheists can go to heaven.
According to atheist Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari of news publication, La Repubblica, the pontiff said, “I start by saying — and this is the fundamental thing — that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to Him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”
The pontiff's comments to Scalfari were later retracted by the Vatican.
The Vatican spokesman said, “The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analyzed: this is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website. Its removal is a final update on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its value, which was questioned.”
4. Pope Francis shows support for same-sex unions?
In November 2014, the National Catholic Reporter published an article titled: ‘Francis tells religious to ‘wake the world,’ outlines modern struggles for church.’
The article read: “Reflecting on educational challenges he’d faced as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the pope mentioned a situation involving the child of a lesbian couple as an example of ‘new challenges which sometimes are difficult for us to understand.’”
This story about the pontiff's seeming openness to same-sex unions was carried by many other publications causing a major confusion over the church’s stance on same-sex marriages.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi reacted by releasing a statement on Vatican Radio. He wrote, “This point about the educational responsibilities of the Church, which in a sense is fairly obvious, was made on Nov. 29 in entirely general terms, [but] has been placed by various Italian media outlets in the context of the question raised in recent days of recognition of civil unions of homosexual couples.
“To speak of an ‘opening to gay couples’ is paradoxical, because the pope’s comment is completely general and because even the small concrete example made by the pope in this regard (a young girl who was sad because the female fiancé of her mother doesn’t love her) alludes to the suffering of the child …”
5. Hell does not exist
This year, Pope Francis caused a major stir when it was reported that he said that “hell does not exist.”
Journalist Eugenio Scalfari wrote that the Catholic leader had told him in a conversation that “Hell does not exist” and that “those who do not repent and cannot, therefore, be forgiven disappear.”
The next day, the Vatican immediately released a statement denying that the pontiff ever made those comments.
“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal words pronounced by the pope are not quoted.
“No quotation of the aforementioned article must, therefore, be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father,” the Holy See said as quoted by the Catholic News Agency.