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His Holiness Pope Francis
Pope Francis in February 2016
Papacy began 13 March 2013
Predecessor Benedict XVI
Ordination 13 December 1969
by Ramón José Castellano
Consecration 27 June 1992
by Antonio Quarracino
Created Cardinal 21 February 2001
Personal details
Birth name Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Born (1936-12-17) 17 December 1936 (age 85)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Argentine with Vatican City citizenship
Residence Casa Santa Martha
Apostolic Palace
Previous post Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina (1973–1979)
Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (1992–1997)
Titular Bishop of Auca (1992–1997)
Archbishop of Buenos Aires (1998–2013)
Cardinal-Priest of St. Roberto Bellarmino (2001–2013)
Ordinary of the Ordinariate for the Faithful of the Eastern Rites in Argentina (1998–2013)
President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference (2005–2011)
Motto Miserando atque Eligendo (By having mercy, by choosing Him)
Signature {{{signature_alt}}}
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus, Italian: Francesco, Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936) is the 266th and current pope of the Catholic Church. He was elected on 13 March 2013. He chose the name Francis to honor St. Francis of Assisi.

Francis is the first Jesuit pope. He is also the first pope in more than a millennium who is not European. He is the first pope ever to come from the Americas, and the first from the Southern Hemisphere.

From 1998 until he was elected as the pope, Francis was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Throughout his life, both as an individual and a religious leader, he has been known for his humility, his concern for the poor, and his commitment to dialogue as a way to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths. He has expressed concern about the effects of global warming (climate change). In his 2015 encyclical Laudato si' , he wrote about these issues, and others.

Since his election to the papacy, he has shown a simpler and less formal approach to the office, choosing to live in the Vatican guesthouse and not the papal residence.

Early life

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was one of the children of Mario Bergoglio, an Italian railway accountant, and Regina Maria Bergoglio (née Sívori), a housewife.

He received a master's degree in philosophy and theology from the University of Buenos Aires. After that, he studied at the seminary in Villa Devoto. He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) on 11 March 1958.

Career before becoming Pope


Bergoglio became a member of the Society of Jesus in 1958. He was made a priest in 1969. In 1973, he was named "provincial" or head of the Jesuits in Argentina. In the mid-1980's, he began work on a doctoral degree at Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany.


Pope John Paul II appointed Bergoglio the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998. During the 2001 Consistory, Pope named Bergoglio as a Cardinal.


Cardinal Bergoglio was elected on March 13, 2013. He chose the name "Francis" to honor St. Francis of Assisi. Just after he was elected, Francis told a newspaper how he chose the new name:

"Let me tell you a story," he said. He then [explained] how during the conclave he had sat next to Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of Brazil, whom he called "a great friend." After the voting, Cardinal Hummes "hugged me, he kissed me and he said, 'Don't forget the poor!' And that word entered here," the pope said, pointing to his heart. "I thought of wars, while the voting continued, though all the votes," he said ... "And Francis is the man of peace. And that way the name came about, came into my heart: Francis of Assisi."

Despite both his parents being Italians, Francis is the first non-European pope since Pope Gregory III in the 8th century.

Pope Francis is the first pope to speak to a session of the United States Congress. He spoke there during his visit to the United States on September 24, 2015.

Other interests

Personally, Pope Francis likes to read books by authors such as Friedrich Hölderlin, Jorge Luis Borges or Fyodor Dostoevsky. He likes to watch movies of Italian neorealism, and likes to go to the opera.

He is also interested in football. He is an active member of San Lorenzo de Almagro, which is one of the teams in the Primera División league.


Celibacy of priests

When Bergoglio was a Cardinal, his views about the celibacy of priests were recorded in the book On Heaven and Earth. The book is a record of conversations he had with a Buenos Aires rabbi. In this book, he said that celibacy "is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change." However, he added: "For the moment, I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its [positive and negative parts], because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures [...] Tradition has weight and validity."

He also said that "in the Byzantine, Ukrainian, Russian, and Greek Catholic Churches [...] the priests can be married, but the bishops have to be celibate". He said that many of those in Western Catholicism who are pushing for more discussion about the issue do so from a position of "pragmatism", based on a loss of manpower. He states that "If, hypothetically, Western Catholicism were to review the issue of celibacy, I think it would do so for cultural reasons (as in the East), not so much as a universal option." He emphasized that, in the meantime, the rule must be strictly followed, and any priest who cannot obey it "has to leave the ministry."

Coat of arms of Franciscus
Coat of arms of Pope Francis

National Catholic Reporter Vatican analyst Thomas Reese, also a Jesuit, called Bergoglio's use of "conditional language" regarding the rule of celibacy "remarkable." He said that phrases like "for the moment" and "for now" are "not the kind of qualifications one normally hears when bishops and cardinals discuss celibacy."

Beliefs about homosexuality

Pope Francis supports the Catholic teaching that homosexual acts are immoral. However, he has said that gay people should be treated with respect. Bergoglio is against same-sex marriage. In 2011, he called it "the Devil's work".

Argentina considered legalizing same-sex marriage in 2010. At that time, Bergoglio was against this legislation. He called it a "real and dire anthropological throwback." In July 2010, while the law was under consideration, he wrote a letter to Argentina's cloistered nuns in which he said:

In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God's law engraved in our hearts.

Let's not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God's plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that's just its form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God… Let's look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment... May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.

After L'Osservatore Romano reported this, several priests expressed their support for the law. Gay people believe that the church's opposition and Bergoglio's language actually helped the law get passed. They also think that Catholic officials reacted by taking a less harsh tone in later debates on social issues such as parental surrogacy.

On July 29, 2013, Pope Francis gave an interview to some journalists who were traveling with him. When asked if there should be gay priests, Pope Francis replied:

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?

Afterwards, when asked if women should become priests, Francis replied:

The Church has spoken and says no ... that door is closed.

Beliefs about non-Catholics

Three days after being elected Pope, Pope Francis told thousands of news reporters:

[Since] many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God. May God bless you.

It is very rare for a Pope to bless people who are not Catholics. By doing this, the Pope was showing that he accepted people who belonged to different religions.

We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.
– Pope Francis, 22 May 2013

In a speech on 20 March, Pope Francis said that some people do not follow any religion, but still search "for truth, goodness and beauty." He said these people are important allies in protecting human dignity; making peace; and caring for the Earth. This meant the Pope was saying atheists could be allies of the Catholic Church, instead of enemies.

In the same speech, the Pope said that Catholic and Jewish people are connected "by a most special spiritual bond." To Muslim leaders at the speech he said: "[To] Muslims, who worship God as one, living and merciful, and [call on] him in prayer... I greatly appreciate your presence ... [In] it, I see a ... sign of a will to grow in mutual esteem and in cooperation for the common good of humanity."

In September 2013, Francis wrote a letter that was published in La Repubblica newspaper. The letter said that atheists would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences and did what they thought was right. The newspaper's editor, who is not a Catholic, wrote back with a list of questions. Francis wrote back:

You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don't believe and who don't seek the faith. I start by saying—and this is the [most important] thing—that God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and [truly sorry] heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience."


Francis was named 2013 Time Person of the Year in December 2013.

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