Pope Francis releases white doves as he arrives at St Esprit church for a service in Istanbul, Turkey 29 November 2014.
The Pope turned 78 on Wednesday — and he spent it eating cake and getting shout-outs from Presidents Obama and Castro after he helped broker a historic diplomatic break-through between the U.S. and Cuba.
Props to the birthday boy who's had a pretty remarkable year.
Here are the Pope's best, most blessed moments of 2014:
The Pope auctioned off his Harley for charity
Pope Francis's 2013 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide sold at a Paris auction in February for a whopping $327,000. He also auctioned off a signed Harley-Davidson motorcycle jacket that brought in another $77,485 — all for charity.
He said the Internet is a gift from God
Pope Francis described the Internet a "gift from God" in a January statement. The web, he said, can break down barriers between different groups of people, and that Catholics should use it to reach out to members of different faiths.
He chilled with Obama
The two leaders hung out in the Vatican City when Obama traveled through Europe in March. The president described himself as a "great admirer" of the pontiff.
The Pope spoke up for science
The Pope showed he was more open to evolution than his predecessor by saying in October that “evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.” Francis's predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was more on the side of "intelligent design."
The pontiff tweeted for love on Valentine's Day
Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) February 14, 2014
He used a lamb as a scarf
Pope Francis hung out at a live nativity scene in January, and wound up with a lamb dangling form his shoulders. Somehow it looked good on him.
He gave two kids a ride in the popemobile
The Pope was greeting a crowd in St. Peter's Square in April when he spotted a class of fifth graders from Perugia, Italy. He had the popemobile pull over and asked two kids to hop in for a ride around the square before they went back to their classmates.
He demoted a cardinal critical of gays
American Cardinal Raymond Burke had been critical of Pope Francis ever since the pontiff was elected, and he has led the charge against the Catholic Church's more accepting turn toward the LGBT community. As a result, the Pope demoted Burke from leader of the Vatican's highest court to a ceremonial post. Burke had been the United States' highest-ranking cardinal.
He took responsibility for sexually abusive priests
The pontiff said he felt "compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests...have done for having sexually abused children," in April at a Catholic children's organization.
He has met with survivors in the wake of continuous allegations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, and he has set up a commission to help the Vatican develop policies to protect children. Pope Francis has nominated two survivors of priest sexual abuse to the panel.
He promised a charity raffle of Papal tchotchkes
Months after auctioning off his Harley, the Pope announced that he would raffle off some more papal prizes. Some of the top prizes in the raffle that will take place next year are a Fiat 4x4, a digital camera, an espresso machine and a tandem bicycle—and all the money goes to charity.
He cursed during Sunday blessing. (Popes, they're just like us.)
Pope Francis was speaking in Italian—a language he's not used to—during a Vatican blessing in March when he slipped up.
Here's the exact text:
“If each one of us does not amass riches only for oneself, but half for the service of others, in this f*ck [pause], in this case, the providence of God will become visible through this gesture of solidarity,” Francis said, according to Italian newspaper The Local. Apparently, he wanted to say "caso," which means "example" or "case." Instead, "cazzo" slipped from his tongue, which can mean "f*ck," "d*ck," or "c*ck."
And finally....Pope Francis helped the United States and Cuba rekindle their relationship
Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro gave a shoutout to the Pope on Wednesday after the two leaders gave historic speeches announcing their nations would reboot diplomatic relations for the first time since they were cut in 1961.
"I want to thank his Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is," Obama said.
Tags: 2014, GOD, INTERNET, POPE FRANCIS, THE VATICAN, US & World, WORLD