Pope Francis, the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, celebrated his 80th birthday last Saturday, December 17. The Holy See spent the significant day by officiating mass and eating a hearty breakfast amongst the homeless.

Arguably the most open-minded Pope the Catholics have ever had so far, Pope Francis, who was a chemist before devoting his life to priesthood, frequently made the headlines due to his controversial statements on science. This year, the Argentinian-born Pope, tackled several issues head on - from climate change to the Big Bang theory.

Addressing the US Congress at the Capitol Hill back in September, Pope Francis said, "I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity," he said. For those who needed things put more directly, he added, "God will judge you on whether you cared for the Earth," an article by Time magazine stated.

Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences held at the Vatican in November, Pope Francis made a bold statement about evolution, which according to experts will once and for all put an end to "pseudo theories" of creationism and intelligent design was supported by his predecessor, Benedict XVI and his close advisors.

Pope Francis said:

 "The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real and God is not a magician with a magic wand. When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so.

"The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve," Independent UK wrote.

At the same event, Pope Francis expressed his support and praises for the men of science. British astrophysics Stephen Hawking, along with many prominent scientists around the globe, was in attendance.

"I would say that it falls to scientists, who work free of political, economic or ideological interests, to develop a cultural model which can face the crisis of climatic change and its social consequences," he said, "so that the vast potential of productivity will not be reserved for only a few."

The Pope was also quoted saying there has "never been such a clear need for science" to guide human actions to safeguard the future of the planet.