Pope Francisco (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio; 17 December 1936) is the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013. He chose his regnal name in honour of St Francisco Xavier. He is the first pope born in the Americas. Prior to his election, he served as an Argentine cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, being the Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, one of the five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife. After studying at the seminary in Villa Devoto, he entered the Society of Jesus on 11 March 1958. Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel, and then taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada in Santa Fe, and the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires. He was ordained to the priesthood on 13 December 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He attended the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel, a seminary in San Miguel. Bergoglio attained the position of novice master there and became professor of theology.
Impressed with his leadership skills, the Society of Jesus promoted Bergoglio; he served as provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979. In 1980, he became the rector of the seminary in San Miguel where he had studied. He served in that capacity until 1986. He completed his doctoral dissertation in Germany and returned to his homeland to serve as confessor and spiritual director in Córdoba. Bergoglio succeeded Cardinal Quarracino on 28 February 1998. Concurrently, he was ordinary for Uniate Catholics in Argentina, who lacked their own bishop. Pope John Paul II summoned the newly named archbishop to the consistory of 15 February 2001 in Vatican City and elevated Bergoglio to the papal honours of a cardinal. He became Cardinal-Priest of Saint Robert Bellarmino.
As cardinal, Bergoglio served in several administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He served on the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life, and the Congregation of Societies of Apostolic Life. Bergoglio became a member of the Commission on Latin American and the Family Council. As Cardinal, Bergoglio showed personal humility, doctrinal conservatism, and commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle contributed to his reputation for humility. He lived in a small apartment, rather than in a palatial bishop’s residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favour of public transport, and he reportedly cooks his own meals.
Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio, considered papabile himself, participated as a cardinal-elector in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. A widespread theory said that he was in a close race with Ratzinger until he emotionally asked that the cardinals not vote for him. Earlier, he’d participated in the funeral of Pope John Paul II and acted as a regent alongside the College of Cardinals, governing the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church during the interregnal sede vacante period. During the 2005 Synod of Bishops, he became a member of the Post-Synodal Council. Catholic journalist John L Allen, Jr reported that Bergoglio was a frontrunner in the 2005 Conclave. An unauthorised diary of uncertain authenticity released in September 2005 confirmed that Bergogolio was the runner-up and main challenger of Cardinal Ratzinger at that conclave. The purported diary of the anonymous cardinal claimed Bergoglio received 40 votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive ballot. On 8 November 2005, Bergoglio won election as President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–08) by a large majority of the Argentine bishops, which according to reports, confirmed his local leadership and the international prestige earned by his alleged performance in the conclave. He won re-election on 11 November 2008. Cardinal Bergoglio urged his clergy and laity to oppose both abortion and euthanasia.
He affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, although he teaches the importance of respecting homosexual individuals. He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote, “Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it’s a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We aren’t talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God”. He’s also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine President Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church’s tone was reminiscent of “medieval times and the Inquisition”.
13 March 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
“Francisco” is in honour of Francisco Xavier (Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta), SJ, one of the earliest Jesuit missionaries, NOT Francesco d’Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans. This means that Francisco intends a strong mission emphasis in his papacy, especially in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. No doubt, he intends a hard line towards the sectarians… it’s about bloody time.