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Pope Francis
Bishop of Rome
Pope Francis in 2021
Church Catholic Church
Papacy began 13 March 2013
Predecessor Benedict XVI
Ordination 13 December 1969
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 87)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Argentine (with Vatican citizenship)
Denomination Catholic
Residence Domus Sanctae Marthae
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 San Roberto Bellarmino (2001–2013)
  • Ordinary for the Faithful of the Eastern Rites in Argentina (1998–2013)
  • President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference (2005–2011)
Motto Miserando atque eligendo
Signature {{{signature_alt}}}
Coat of arms

Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio; 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church, the bishop of Rome and sovereign of the Vatican City State. He is the first pope to be a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first born or raised outside Europe since the 8th century papacy of the Syrian Pope Gregory III.

Early years

Jorge Mario Bergoglio attended a salesian school between 1948 and 1949
Jorge Mario Bergoglio (fourth boy from the left in the third row from the top) at age 12, Salesian College (c. 1948–49)

Pope Francis was born as Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936 in Flores, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest of five children of Mario José Bergoglio (1908–1959) and Regina María Sívori (1911–1981). Mario Bergoglio was an Italian immigrant accountant born in Portacomaro (Province of Asti) in Italy's Piedmont region. Regina Sívori was a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin. Mario José's family left Italy in 1929 to escape the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini. According to María Elena Bergoglio (born 1948), the pope's only living sibling, they did not emigrate for economic reasons. His other siblings were Oscar Adrián (1938–deceased), Marta Regina (1940–2007), and Alberto Horacio (1942–2010). Two great-nephews, Antonio and Joseph, died in a traffic collision. His niece, Cristina Bergoglio, is a painter based in Madrid, Spain.

In the sixth grade, Bergoglio attended Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles, a school of the Salesians of Don Bosco, in Ramos Mejía, Buenos Aires Province. He attended the technical secondary school Escuela Técnica Industrial N° 27 Hipólito Yrigoyen, named after a past Argentine president, and graduated with a chemical technician's diploma In that capacity, he spent several years working in the food section of Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory, where he worked under Esther Ballestrino. Earlier, he was a bouncer and a janitor.

When he was 21 years old, after life-threatening pneumonia and three cysts, Bergoglio had part of a lung excised.

Early career (1958–2013)

Bergoglio joined the Jesuits in 1958. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was the Jesuit provincial superior in Argentina. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina.

Papacy (2013–present)

Coat of arms of Pope Francis
As cardinal
As pope
The gold star represents the Virgin Mary, the grape-like plant—the spikenard—is associated with Saint Joseph and the IHS is the symbol of the Jesuits.
Papa Francisco recién elegido 2
Francis appears in public for the first time as pope, at St. Peter's Basilica balcony, 13 March 2013.

Elected at 76 years old, Francis is the first Jesuit pope. He is also the first from the Americas, and the first from the Southern Hemisphere. Many media reported him as being the first non-European pope, but he is actually the 11th; the previous was Gregory III from Syria, who died in 741. Moreover, although Francis was not born in Europe, he is ethnically European; his father and both of his mother's parents are from northern Italy.

As pope, his manner is less formal than that of his immediate predecessors: a style that news coverage has referred to as "no frills", noting that it is "his common touch and accessibility that is proving the greatest inspiration." On the night of his election, he took a bus back to his hotel with the cardinals, rather than be driven in the papal car. The next day, he visited Cardinal Jorge María Mejía in the hospital and chatted with patients and staff. At his first media audience, the Saturday after his election, the pope explained his papal name choice, citing Saint Francis of Assisi as "the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man", and he added "[h]ow I would like a poor Church, and for the poor".

In addition to his native Spanish, he speaks fluent Italian (the official language of Vatican City and the "everyday language" of the Holy See) and German. He is also conversant in Latin (the official language of the Holy See), French, Portuguese, and English, and he understands the Piedmontese language and some Genoese.

Francis chose not to live in the official papal residence in the Apostolic Palace, but to remain in the Vatican guest house, in a suite in which he can receive visitors and hold meetings. He is the first pope since Pope Pius X to live outside the papal apartments. Francis still appears at the window of the Apostolic Palace for the Sunday Angelus.


Pope Francis among the people at St. Peter's Square - 12 May 2013
Francis in St. Peter's Square, two months after his election

At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, and had done so because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. He explained that, as it was becoming clear during the conclave voting that he would be elected the new bishop of Rome, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, "Don't forget the poor", which had made Bergoglio think of the saint. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that: "He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history."

This is the first time that a pope has been named Francis. On the day of his election, the Vatican clarified that his official papal name was "Francis", not "Francis I", i.e. no regnal number is used for him. A Vatican spokesman said that the name would become Francis I if and when there is a Francis II. It is the first time since Lando's 913–914 pontificate that a serving pope holds a name not used by a predecessor.

Death penalty

Francis has committed the Catholic Church to the worldwide abolition of the death penalty in any circumstance. In 2018, Francis revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read that "in the light of the Gospel" the death penalty is "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and that the Catholic Church "works with determination for its abolition worldwide."

Role of women

On 11 January 2021, Francis allowed bishops to institute women to the ministries of acolyte and lector. While these instituted ministries were previously reserved to men, Catholic women already carry out these duties without institution in most of the world. Francis wrote that these ministries are fundamentally distinct from those reserved to ordained clergy. In 2023, Francis initiated dialogue on the possibility of female priests and deaconesses. In an interview for a book released in Italy the same year, Francis stated that "holy orders is reserved for men" but that "the fact that the woman does not access ministerial life is not a deprivation, because her place is much more important".

In February 2021, Francis announced back-to-back appointments of women to take positions that were only held by men in the past. He appointed France's member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, Nathalie Becquart as the first co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops. Besides, an Italian magistrate, Catia Summaria also became the first woman Promoter of Justice in the Vatican's Court of Appeals.

On 26 April 2023, Francis announced that 35 women would be allowed to vote at the Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (making up "just over 10 percent" of all voters), marking the first time women are allowed to vote at any Catholic Synod of Bishops.


In June 2013, Francis suggested that "if a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"

In an interview with Associated Press, Pope Francis said laws that criminalized homosexuality were unjust and that Catholic bishops should welcome LGBTQ people into the church rather than marginalize them, stating "we are all children of God". In 2023, he initiated dialogue on the possibility of blessing same-sex partners, in certain circumstances.

Francis has been less supportive of transgender rights.

International diplomatic role

Pope Francis Travels
Map indicating countries visited by Francis as pope
Pope Francis and Sergio Mattarella 2022
Pope Francis with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in 2022
Korea Pope Francis Arrive Seoul Airport 03
Francis with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, 14 August 2014
Pope Francis in Sarajevo 06 (cropped)
Crowd at the Koševo City Stadium in Sarajevo, celebrating a mass with Francis, June 2015
Vladimir Putin with Franciscus (2015-06-10) 1
Francis shaking hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin, 10 June 2015

Francis played a key role in the talks toward restoring full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

On 24 May 2017, Francis met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Vatican City, where they discussed the contributions of Catholics to the United States and to the world. They discussed issues of mutual concern, including how religious communities can combat human suffering in crisis regions, such as Syria, Libya, and ISIS-controlled territory.

Pope Francis visit Bethlehem
Francis in Bethlehem, Palestine, 25 May 2014
Wizyta w Watykanie (42556254741)
Francis with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his family, Vatican City, June 2018

Francis has supported the cause of refugees during the European and Central American migrant crises, calling on the Western World to significantly increase immigration levels. In 2022, he apologized for the Church's role in the "cultural genocide" of the Canadian indigenous peoples. On 4 October 2023, Francis convened the beginnings of the Synod on Synodality, described as the culmination of his papacy and the most important event in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council.


Titles and styles

The official form of address of the pope in English is His Holiness Pope Francis; in Latin, Franciscus, Episcopus Romae. Holy Father is among the other honorifics used for popes.

Foreign orders

  •  Bolivia: BOL Order of Condor of the Andes - Grand Cross BAR.png: Grand Collar of the Order of the Condor of the Andes (9 July 2015)
  •  Bolivia: Order of Merit "Father Luis Espinal Camps" (9 July 2015)
  •  Poland: POL Order Uśmiechu BAR.svg: Order of the Smile (26 April 2016)


Honorific eponyms and dedications

Pope Francis Malacanang 45
Francis and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in Manila, 16 January 2015
  •  Philippines: The Pope Francis Center for the Poor – Palo, Leyte (12 July 2015)
  • Ennio Morricone composed a Mass setting (Missa Papae Francisci) named after the pope, for the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Jesuit order. The performance aired on Rai 5 and was attended by former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and other dignitaries.
  • The composer Ludger Stühlmeyer dedicated his work Klangrede – Sonnengesang des Franziskus, for choir (SATB) and instruments – to Pope Francis (Suae Sanctitati Papae Francisci dedicat.). First performance: Capella Mariana 4 October 2015.


In the oratorio Laudato si' by Peter Reulein (music) written on a libretto by Helmut Schlegel OFM, the figure of Francis appears next to Mary, Francis of Assisi, and Clare of Assisi. In the oratorio, Pope Franziskus suggests a bridge from the crucifixion scene on Golgotha to the suffering of the present. He emphasizes the female talent and the importance of the charism of women for church and society. The texts of the encyclicals Laudato si' and Evangelii gaudium were used. The motto of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy also plays a central role. The oratorio was premiered on 6 November 2016 in the Limburg Cathedral.

Coat of arms


Pope Francis has written a variety of books, encyclicals, and other writings.

Music album

Wake Up! was released on 27 November 2015 by the label Believe Digital and contains speeches by Francis and accompanying music, including rock music.


Documentary film

By 2015, there were two biographical films about Francis: Call Me Francesco (Italy, 2015), starring Rodrigo de la Serna, and Francis: Pray for me (Argentina, 2015), starring Darío Grandinetti.

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word is a documentary film with Swiss-Italian-French-German co-production, co-written and directed by Wim Wenders. It premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and was released in the United States on 18 May 2018. It includes extensive sections of interviews as well as stock footage from archives.

On 21 October 2020, the documentary Francesco directed by film producer Evgeny Afineevsky premiered.

On 4 October 2022, the documentary The Letter: A Message for our Earth premiered on YouTube Originals, directed by Nicolas Brown and produced by Off The Fence in partnership with Laudato Si' Movement.

Portrayal in film

Francis is played by Jonathan Pryce in the biographical drama film The Two Popes (2019), costarring with Anthony Hopkins who plays Pope Benedict XVI.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Francisco (papa) para niños

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