As Pope Francis marks the tenth anniversary of his election as pontiff, RTÉ's Social Affairs and Religion Correspondent Ailbhe Conneely has picked ten notable moments from his pontificate thus far.

1. A Pope breaking grounds

His election in 2013 saw several firsts. The first Latin American Pope, the first Jesuit and the first to take the name Francis, after the humble and beloved 13th Century Italian saint, who gave up riches for a life of simplicity, peace, prayer, and love.

2. A new approach

He shocked traditionalists from the outset. During his first Holy Week ceremonies, Pope Francis horrified some by washing the feet of women and Muslims.

3. Prioritising migrants and refugees

His first trip was to the Italian island of Lampedusa where he met migrants escaping poverty and persecution.

The following year in a speech to the European Parliament, he said that politicians' failure to provide migrants and refugees with safe ways of leaving their home countries risked turning the Mediterranean into a "vast cemetery".

He has also been extremely vocal on criticising the war in Ukraine and its impact on the Ukrainian people seeking refuge in other European countries.

4. Climate and the environment

His second encyclical (the first was shared with his predecessor, Benedict XVI), Laudato si', was published in 2015.

It addressed the need for care of the natural environment and all people, and addressed broader questions about the relationship between God, humans and the Earth.


Read more: Pope Francis marks 10th anniversary with mass and podcast


5. Extending the hand to other religions

In 2014 Pope Francis met the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world in Jerusalem, to pray and sign a joint declaration to overcome obstacles between the churches.

In March 2021 Pope Francis visited Iraq during which he paid a courtesy call to the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, a cleric revered by the Shia community - as part of the Vatican's efforts to build a dialogue with the Shias.

Pope Francis on Christmas Day last year

6. The role of women in the Church

In 2016, the Vatican - in response to wishes by Francis - established a commission charged with investigating the historical role of women in the church and explore the possibility of women deacons.

Unsatisfied with their findings, he appointed another Commission in recent years to examine the matter, which is under way.

He has also increased the number of women that work in the Vatican in non-clerical roles.

7. LGBT+ community

Four months into his papacy, he said "who am I to judge them?" regarding the LGBT+ community.

His comments were seen as a major change in direction and compassion towards the community by the hierarchy of the Church.

8. Family life

In his apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love," he called for greater recognition of the complexity of family life and left the door open to allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist.

9. Apology

Last year Pope Francis visited Canada to apologise to indigenous communities for the Church's role in the atrocities committed in the residential school system.

10. Papal visit to Ireland

Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with Michael D Higgins, at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park, Dublin

In 2018, Pope Francis made the first visit to Ireland since Pope John Paul II in 1979.

He asked for forgiveness for members of the Catholic Church's hierarchy who "kept quiet" about clerical child sex abuse.

His two-day visit ended with the celebration of mass at the Phoenix Park at which saw far fewer attendees than in 1979.