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The Catholic Register offers its readers dependable information and opinion as a joyful servant of God's pilgrim church.

Pope Francis was pretty much a consensus pick as person of the year in both the religious and secular press. From Time magazine to, of course, The Catholic Register, the feeling seems universal that no other leader, religious or otherwise, could match the 2013 world impact of the joyful new Pope from Argentina.

After years of negative news about the Church, Francis repositioned the discussion to focus on humankind’s potential as a loving, generous, merciful community. He shared a vision of charity and hope while delivering a message that was consistently positive and upbeat, upbraiding “sourpusses” and celebrating the Church as a “house of joy.”

As people contemplate new beginnings for 2014, they should reflect on the wisdom of Pope Francis.

Here is a small sampling of his comments, delivered over the past nine months in homilies, writings and interviews, that The Register found poignant as we bid adieu to the old year and usher in the new.

  • “A Church without charity doesn’t exist.”
  • “I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”
  • “You can, you must, try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow.”
  • “Money has to serve, not to rule.”
  • “Christians who are afraid to build bridges and prefer to build walls are Christians who are not sure of their faith, not sure of Jesus Christ.”
  • “Let us never forget that authentic power is service and that the Pope, too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the cross.”
  • “The Church is not a refuge for sad people.
  • The Church is a house of joy.”
  • “An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”
  • “Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking for forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving.”
  • “When Christians forget about hope and tenderness they become a cold Church that loses its sense of direction.”
  • “An example I often use to illustrate the reality of vanity is this: look at the peacock — it’s beautiful if you look at it from the front, but if you look at it from behind you discover the truth.”
  •  “There is no such thing as innocent gossip.”

Pope Francis was unquestionably the 2013 person of the year. Now the challenge for us, as we set New Year’s resolutions, is to make 2014 better because of him.

Christmas prayers

By

Catholics have more to celebrate than usual this Christmas. For the first time in Church history the birth of Jesus will be celebrated by two legitimate popes. Yes, it has been quite a year.

Power of forgiveness

By

Nelson Mandela once said that in the pursuit of peace “courageous people do not fear forgiving.”

Genius of Francis

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Anyone who has followed Pope Francis over the past nine months would spot few surprises in his apostolic exhortation released Nov. 26. The 214-page document reads like a digest of the many pastoral teachings articulated by Francis in homilies, addresses and interviews during his young pontificate.

Stop the exodus

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Every Advent the eyes of the Christian world turn towards the birthplace of Christ. But with each passing year those eyes are finding fewer and fewer Christians in Bethlehem and throughout the Holy Land.

A remarkable year

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The Year of Faith is ending and what a remarkable year it was.

JFK’s legacy

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Before John F. Kennedy it was unthinkable that a Catholic could overcome religious prejudice in the United States to be elected president. Kennedy proved otherwise, of course, and now 50 years after his assassination the full impact of that victory is evident in how the relationship between politics and religion has fundamentally changed — and not necessarily for the better.

Giving back

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Governor General David Johnston should be commended for a new initiative that is Catholic in everything but name. Launched by Johnston on Nov. 4, My Giving Moment is a national campaign to encourage Canadians to improve society by volunteering time, giving money and providing expertise to charitable and other community causes. Johnston calls this philanthropy, the Church calls it stewardship — the obligation to give our time, talent and treasure as part of our Christian call to live with joy, compassion and generosity.

In Francis’ footsteps

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The case of Germany’s “luxury bishop” underscores that Pope Francis is someone who says what he means and means what he says.

Let’s talk about life

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Canadians can’t stop talking about the appropriateness of allowing the weakest and sickest members of society to be killed.

Moving forward

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By taking the bold and encouraging step of empowering a permanent council of cardinals Pope Francis has launched an era of revolutionary rebirth to create a less centralized, more inclusive world Church.