Pope Francis - a man of the people - is the first Pope from the Americas in history. But
who exactly is Pope Francis?
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936 and is the eldest of five
children. Jorge’s father, Mario Jose was an accountant and immigrant who fled Italy
to escape the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. The family of Jorge’s Argentine-born
mother was also from Italy.
Jorge attended Catholic school and received a chemical technician’s diploma, which got
him a job in the foods section of a laboratory, but he also made money as bar bouncer and
When he was 21, he suffered from life threatening pneumonia and had to have part of a lung removed.
After three years of studying, Jorge entered the Society of Jesus as a novice, although
he wasn’t 100% sure he wanted to continue his religious career because he was crushing
on a girl.
But he did continue and was ordained to the priesthood at 32.
Jorge continued his spiritual training while rising through the ranks of the church in
Argentina, while also spending time in Spain, Ireland, and Germany.
In 1998 Jorge Bergoglio became archbishop of Buenos Aires. Three years later, Pope John
Paul II elevated him to Cardinal.
In the 2005 papal conclave Bergoglio received the second-most votes behind Joseph Ratzinger,
who became Pope Benedict XVI.
On March 13, 2013, Jorge Bergoglio became Pope, taking the name Francis.
He is the spiritual leader of an estimated 1.1 billion Catholics. From the start, his
papacy has set an extremely humble tone, resulting in worldwide admiration.
Francis chose not to live in the luxurious official papal residence in the Apostolic
Palace, residing in the Vatican guest house.
This gave him the credibility to undertake drastic reforms to set the Catholic Church’s
financial house in order by ending excessive spending by many Cardinals and Bishops, and
bringing an unprecedented level of transparency.
He has also taken progressive stances on social and scientific issues. Acknowledging the Big
Bang as the “origin of the world” and the validity of evolution. Pope Francis has
been outspoken about the dangers of climate change, calling for “highly polluting fossil
fuels” to be “progressively replaced without delay...Human beings, while capable of the
worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new
Francis has also taken a more compassionate stance toward abortion, creating a year of
mercy that will allow for priests to forgive those who have committed the “sin of abortion.”
In respect to homosexuality, Francis famously said, "If someone is gay and he searches for
the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
The following quote captures what Pope Francis’ legacy will likely be: "I prefer a Church
which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than
a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," Pope
Francis has said. "I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then
ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures."
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