A look back at Pope Francis' remarkable year

Pope Francis enjoyed a remarkable year. He continued his fearless attempts to tackle global issues head-on, traveling around the world, reports CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey.

The pontiff set his tone for 2015 in the Philippines, braving typhoon weather in the same cheap yellow poncho the faithful wore -- not quite "walking on water," but close enough.

He logged more than 50,000 air miles to 11 countries, consistently delivering a message based on mercy, family, poverty, inequality and the environment.

Pope Francis celebrates Christmas Eve Mass at Vatican

His plain-speaking attitude kept Francis cassock-deep in controversy and enhanced his popularity.

A confession that a drawback to being Pope was not being able to go out for a pizza prompted a Naples pizza-maker to deliver one to the popemobile.

Francis paid him back by boldly going where the law fears to tread -- into a neighborhood infested by the Camorra, the local mafia, and deriding them with a single phrase: "Corrupt society stinks."

As spring came to the Vatican, Francis was in full bloom on his principal themes. Canonizing two saints from what was 19th-century Palestine bolstered persecuted Christians of the Middle East. Signing the first formal accord between the State of Palestine and the Vatican gave Palestinians a boost and displeased Israel.

His signature moment of the year was a clarion call for action on climate change and the environment.

And he took the message to the major seats of power, starting with the White House, where he made his first-ever speech in English.

"I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of the whole Americans," Francis told a crowd of thousands on the South Lawn.

He followed it up with the first address by a pope to a joint meeting of Congress and managed to both please and disconcert politicians on both sides of the political spectrum. His reasoned and calm delivery was such a stark contrast to normal political dialogue in Washington that it had hundreds of viewers tweeting along the lines of: "Congress: Listen to this man."

In a follow-up speech at the U.N., he threw down the gauntlet to nearly 150 heads of state.

"Any harm done to the environment ... is harm done to humanity," he told them.

Massive security -- which aides said the pope hated -- kept crowd numbers down from his usual, but not the enthusiasm he generated.

And on the home front, Francis overcame opposition from within the Curia to begin reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, and made an extraordinary apology for a series of Vatican scandals, including gay sex and drug abuse.

Pope Francis in midst of final stop on Africa trip

"I want ... in the name of the Church," he told a weekly audience, "to ask forgiveness for the scandals."

He convinced -- some said bullied -- the synod of bishops to adopt his more tolerant stance toward divorced couples and gays -- without conceding the church's ideal that family is based on a marriage between a man and a woman -- and eased the process of getting annulments.

He defied security warnings to make a grueling trip to Africa, one leg of which was held to be the most dangerous stop ever made by a modern pope.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy he just declared will encompass everything the pope does in 2016. His visit to Mexico in February will focus on immigration and put him in focus in U.S. politics.

One other issue is his health. Francis suffers from sciatica, has only one lung and just turned 79. So will he finally slow down and maybe even take a break? Maybe.

The only thing predictable about Pope Francis is that he will do the unpredictable.