Pope Francis: Elected
266th pope on March 13th, 2013
Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936, Pope Francis
is the 266th and current pope of the Catholic Church, elected on 13
March 2013. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was ordained as
a priest in 1969. In 1998 he became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires,
and in 2001 a cardinal. Following the resignation of his predecessor,
Pope Benedict XVI, on 28 February 2013, the conclave elected Cardinal
Bergoglio, who chose the papal name Francisco in honour of Saint Francis
of Assisi. He is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas,
and the first from the Southern Hemisphere. Francis is the first pope
born outside Europe in 1,272 years, since Syrian-born St. Gregory III.
Francis speaks Spanish, Latin, Italian, German, French, and English.
His Early life
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, one of the five children
of Mario José Bergoglio, a railway worker born in Portacomaro
(Asti) in Italy's Piedmont region, and his wife Regina María
Sivori, a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian
(Piedmontese-Genovese) origin. He graduated from the technical secondary
school Escuelas Técnicas #27, Hipólito Yrigoyen,
and earned a degree as a chemical technician. According to some sources,
he earned a masters' degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos
Aires. At the age of 21, he received a vocation to the priesthood and
began his religious studies and was eventually ordained in 1969. He
suffered from life-threatening pneumonia and cysts and had part of a
lung removed shortly afterwards.
Jorge entered the Society of Jesus on 11 March 1958 and studied to become
a priest at the Jesuit seminary in Villa Devoto. In 1960, he obtained
a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José
in San Miguel; in 1964 and 1965, he taught literature and psychology
at the Colegio de la Inmaculada, a high school in the Province of Santa
Fe, Argentina, and in 1966 he taught the same courses at the Colegio
del Salvador in Buenos Aires.
In 1967, Bergoglio finished his theological studies and was ordained
to the priesthood on 13 December 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José
Castellano. He attended the Facultades de
Filosofía y Teología de San Miguel (Philosophical
and Theological Faculty of San Miguel), a seminary in San Miguel, Buenos
Aires province. He attained the position of novice master there and
became professor of theology.
The Society of Jesus promoted him and he served as provincial for Argentina
from 1973 to 1979. He was transferred in 1980 to become the rector of
the seminary in San Miguel, and served in that capacity until 1986.
He spent several months at Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt, Germany, while
considering possible dissertation topics and returned to Argentina to
serve as confessor and spiritual director to the Jesuit community in
Córdoba. In Germany he saw the painting Mary Untier of Knots
in Augsburg and brought a copy of the painting to Argentina where it
has become an important Marian devotion. According to Regina Novaes
of the Institute of Religious Studies in Rio de Janeiro, this devotion
"attracts people with small problems”. He had an image of
Mary Untier of Knots inscribed on a chalice he presented to Pope Benedict
XVI in 2005.
Father Bergoglio was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992
and was ordained on 27 June 1992 as Titular Bishop of Auca. He succeeded
Cardinal Quarracino as Archbishop of Buenos Aires on 28 February 1998
and was concurrently named ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina,
who had lacked their own prelate.
At the consistory of 21 February 2001, Archbishop Bergoglio was created
a cardinal by Pope John Paul II with the title of cardinal-priest of
San Roberto Bellarmino. As cardinal, he was appointed to five administrative
positions in the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism
and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle contributed to
his reputation for humility. He lived in a small apartment, rather than
in the palatial bishop's residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine
in favour of public transportation and cooked his own meals.
On the death of Pope John Paul II, he participated in
the funeral rites and acted as a regent alongside the College of Cardinals,
governing the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church during the interregnum
sede vacante period. Bergoglio participated as a cardinal elector in
the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.
In 2007, just two days after Benedict XVI issued
Summorum Pontificum, Cardinal Bergoglio was one of the first
bishops in the world to respond by instituting a Tridentine mass in
Buenos Aires. It was celebrated weekly.
In Argentina, opinion about his appointment as Pope was
divided; some support Bergoglio and admire his austere lifestyle, while
others disapprove of his opposition to issues like same-sex marriage.