As he begins the fifth year of his papacy, the first Latin American pope continues to inspire and surprise as he reconciles the conflicting demands of traditionalism and modernity within the Catholic faith. Last spring, in a publication titled Amoris Laetitia, he nudged the church hierarchy to become more welcoming to divorced Catholics and LGBT worshippers. And earlier this year he took aim at a millennium-old tradition of clerical celibacy by urging the church to consider allowing viri probati, or “tested” married men, to become priests, to help alleviate a worldwide shortage of Catholic clergy.
But beyond his church’s walls, it’s the pope’s critique of capitalism without conscience that ensures his enduring influence. In December at a gathering of CEOs convened by Fortune and Time at the Vatican, Pope Francis called on business leaders to do more to reach the billions of people shut out from the fruits of the global economy. “Give them a voice, listen to their stories, learn from their experiences, and understand their needs,” the pope urged his audience, backing up his challenge with a moral authority that virtually no other leader can wield.
“I’m in awe of the way Pope Francis has used his powerful role to spread a message of unconditional love, forgiveness, humanity, and humility.” —Arianna Huffington, Founder, Thrive Global