2016 was a year of mercy for the Roman Catholic Church, but it was a bittersweet year for Pope Francis, who called the year of mercy simply because, I think everyone would agree, it was a very bitter year for humanity. This is Phil Pullella, Reuters correspondent, here at the Vatican.
Just about one year ago on January 1st in his World Day of Peace message, the Pope said that humanity was suffering from a torrent of misery. So the entire Year of Mercy took place with a backdrop of wars, not only in Syria, but in other places. Despite that, the Pope continued asking people, and nations, and governments to show mercy towards each other, to try and work for peace.
And there were a lot of symbols that he put across in trying to make that effort. And the Pope made a very eloquent gesture by bringing back 12 migrants on his very plane when he visited a migrants' refugee camp in Lesbos, the Greek island. Not everything was rosy within the church for the Pope, however, towards the end of the year.
For conservative cardinals issued an extremely rare public accusation against the Pope, saying that some of his teachings on sexual morality were just sowing confusion among the faithful. So it was a mixed bag for the Pope, but he continuously tried to show his own mercy on even a personal level.
Nearly every Friday, he went unannounced to someplace in Rome or near Rome and dropped in on people who were suffering. Such as people recovering from drug addiction, women who had been freed from the slavery of prostitution, and the message was, basically, if I can do it, you should be able to do it as well.