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Pope sees banner first year, but expectations high

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FILE — In this file photo taken on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, the day of his election. From his gestures to his simple soundbites to his emphasis that priests are called to serve, Pope Francis has endeared himself to the public, radically shifted the paradigm of the papacy and reminded the world that the church’s mission is one of mercy. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

FILE — In this file photo taken on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, the day of his election. From his gestures to his simple soundbites to his emphasis that priests are called to serve, Pope Francis has endeared himself to the public, radically shifted the paradigm of the papacy and reminded the world that the church’s mission is one of mercy. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

FILE — In this March 28, 2013 file photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis kisses the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome. Francis doesn’t mind breaking rules and finds the church has too many “small-minded” ones to begin with. He broke a biggie just two weeks after being elected when he washed the feet of a woman and Muslim during a Holy Thursday ceremony re-enacting Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet. Vatican rules are clear that it should be performed on men only, since Jesus’ apostles were men. (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, ho)

FILE — In this file photo taken on the Copacabana beachfront in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 25, 2013, Pope Francis greets from his popemobile as he makes his way through the crowds. Francis’ flouting of rules has extended to saints (he’s declared three of them without going through the Vatican’s miracle-confirmation protocol) and to security: He ditched the armored popemobile for his first foreign trip to Brazil, and promptly got swarmed by adoring crowds in Rio when his motorcade took a wrong turn. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

FILE — In this Dec. 23, 2013 picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, left, welcomes Pope Francis as they exchanged Christmas greetings, at the Vatican. When Pope Benedict XVI abdicated, he insisted he would remain “hidden from the world” in prayer. But Francis has slowly coaxed him out of retirement and giving him an increasily public role in the church, believing that he like all elderly have something to offer and shouldn’t be holed up in a museum like a “statue.” (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, ho)

FILE — In this photo taken on Oct. 4, 2013, Pope Francis is welcomed by friars during his visit of the Eremo delle Carceri hermitage, near Assisi, Italy. If there ever was an indication that the Jesuit from Argentina would be a very different kind of pope it was in his decision to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century friar who gave up his wealth to minister to the poor. (AP Photo/Andreas Solaro, pool)

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — From his simple sound bites to his breaking of Vatican rules, Pope Francis has made being Catholic cool in his first year.

He might not like his superstar status, but he certainly knows how to work a crowd and he has endeared himself to the public for looking out for the poor and radically shifting the church’s focus to mercy rather than moralizing.

“Now, people are happy to say ‘Well, actually I am a Catholic,’ and sometimes they’re quite keen to let themselves be known as a Catholic,” British Cardinal Vincent Nichols said. “And I think that’s the effect of Pope Francis. There is credibility around the Catholic project.”

But not everyone is thrilled and expectations are high for his second year, with high-profile travel, Vatican reform and discussion on hot-button issues like family and sex on the agenda.

Some key moments in Francis’ first year give insight to what the future may hold for the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church.

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FRANCIS THE RULE-BREAKER

Francis believes the church has too many “small-minded” rules and hasn’t been shy about breaking them. Just two weeks after being elected, he washed the feet of a woman and Muslim during a Holy Thursday ceremony reenacting Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet. Vatican rules state it should be performed on men only.

“People were reacting, ‘God, he’s breaking the rules!'” noted Monsignor Paul Tighe, No. 2 in the Vatican’s social communications office. “But in a sense he was bringing us back to the radicality of the choice of Jesus.”

Francis has declared at least two saints without going through the Vatican’s miracle-confirmation protocol, not to mention his decision to shun the papal apartments for the Vatican hotel.

Will Francis break another rule barring divorced and civilly remarried Catholics from receiving Communion? He has called a church-wide, two-year debate on the issue starting in October. But even proponents of a more merciful approach endorsed by Francis insist core doctrine won’t change.

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AT THE COPA-COPACABANA

Francis’ flouting of rules has extended to security: He ditched the armored popemobile for his first foreign trip to Brazil, and was swarmed by adoring crowds in Rio de Janeiro when his motorcade took a wrong turn.

The Rio trip was also a watershed because he uttered the now-famous words “Who am I to judge” about gays on the flight home. It set the stage for a radical shift in tone about church teaching on homosexuality and opened the debate on whether the church could endorse civil unions — another issue that will come up at the October synod.

Not everyone is pleased. Traditionalist and some conservative Catholics have ranted about the pope’s actions, saying it confuses the faithful and undermines church teaching.

“Pope Francis has begun a revolution, and like every revolution there are groups who are

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