Facts on pope francis

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The Pope is perhaps one of the most well-known figures in the world, and as the leader of the Catholic Church, he is the epitome of goodness and holiness.

Most of us know Pope Francis as the guy who travels in a bulletproof car, shakes hands and blesses members of the public as he goes along, but there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Pope Francis is 83 years old. He was born on 17th December 1936.

He was born in Bueno Aires, Argentina.

He first became a priest in 1969, but did not become Pope until 2013.

No other Pope in Catholic history has had the name Francis, and he is also the first Jesuit to be elected as Pope.

The world knows him as Francis, but his real name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He chose the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, a Catholic friar born in 12th century Italy.

In his pre-priest days, Pope Francis used to enjoy dancing the tango with his then-girlfriend.

While some may think he studied Theology, Pope Francis actually studied for a Master’s Degree in Chemistry and used to teach the subject in high schools.

Back in Buenos Aires, he worked as a bouncer in a bar – a far cry from the Vatican!

At the time of his election, medical professionals were worried about the health of Pope Francis. The missing lung which caused their concern was removed way back when he was a teen, but he is in very good health now.

His Holiness isn’t one to sit back and get waited on hand and foot, choosing rather to cook his own meals. He’s a big fan of cooking, and rumor has it that one of his specialty dishes is paella.

Pope Francis certainly isn’t new to the papal world. When Pope Benedict XVI won the election in 2005, Pope Francis was a runner-up.

As loving and caring as he seems, we’re not entirely sure about his stance on the issue of gay marriage. In 2001, he visited AIDS patients, going so far as to wash and kiss their feet. However, he has openly stated that gay marriage isn’t included in ‘God’s plan’, and caused a bit of uproar in 2015 when he allegedly had a secret meeting with Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to marry same-sex couples.

Pope Francis likes to keep up with the modern world, and tweets to over 7 million Twitter followers on a regular basis. For the Francis fans out there, you can follow him @Pontifex and receive his words of wisdom on your Twitter homepage.

The papal leader speaks fluent Spanish, Italian and Latin, and doesn’t struggle too much with English, German, Ukrainian, French and Portuguese either. A man of many talents (or should we say languages?)!

Pope Francis wouldn’t say no to a game of football, since he’s quite a fan of the sport. He still supports the San Lorenzo football team from his home town in Argentina. He has also been gifted many football shirts, and now has rather a large collection.

The Bible isn’t the only book he enjoys delving into. In fact, he has read The Lord of the Rings and various other books by J. R. R. Tolkien.

He is currently a citizen of three different countries; Argentina, Italy and Vatican.

Rather than bask in his new-found fame as leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis decided to live in a small guest house in the Vatican, rather than the traditional apartments in which previous leaders resided.

In 2013, the same year he was elected as Pope, he was named as Time’s ‘Person of the Year’. He was chosen for this title because of the influence that he had already had in the short space of time as leader.

Pope Francis has been given many extravagant gifts over the years, and one of them was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. However, rather than keeping it for his own pleasure and adventures, he sold it off and used the money to benefit homeless people. What a saint!

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pope francis biography

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Profile: Pope Francis

Image copyright EPA Image caption Pope Francis has been an outspoken reformer – but his style has also fomented opposition, within the Vatican and beyond

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a relative outsider when he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI in 2013.

Pope Francis, as he became, is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to lead the Roman Catholic Church.

His election as the 266th pope surprised analysts who may have been expecting a younger man than the 76 year old.

At the time of his election he drew broad support from both Church conservatives and reformers, being seen as orthodox on sexual matters but liberal on social ones.

His supporters liked his “common touch” and his zealous determination to reform the Curia (Vatican bureaucracy), root out corruption in the Vatican bank and deal with the horrific legacy of child sex abuse within the Church.

Four years into his papacy, polls suggest the Pope enjoys high popularity ratings, among Catholics and other faiths. He is followed by more than 15 million people on Twitter.

But his willingness to take on issues head-on has also created a growing number of opponents, both within the Vatican and outside.

Social critic

On the morning after his election, the new Pope slipped out of Vatican City in a motorcade of unmarked vehicles to pray in a Roman Basilica, according to BBC Rome correspondent David Willey.

On the way back to the Vatican, he insisted on settling his bill at a hotel for clergy in the centre of the Italian capital, immediately stamping his style on the papacy.

He abandoned the roomy penthouse apartment used by popes for the past century in favour of a tiny suite in the Vatican guesthouse, and turned his back upon the palatial papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

He has gone on to call into question free-market economics, said the Church should apologise to gay people rather than judge them, and compared European migrant detention centres with concentration camps, among other things.

But observers say it is inaccurate to suggest the Pope is a liberal out and out. “Francis is also clearly ‘conservative'”, wrote John Allen Jr, editor of the Roman Catholic-oriented news website Crux, in 2016. He added that he had not yet “changed a single comma in the catechism, the official compendium of church teaching. He’s said no to women priests, no to gay marriage, defined abortion as the ‘most horrific’ of crimes, defended the heart of the ban on birth control, and on every other contested issue declared himself a loyal ‘son of the church’.”

Nonetheless, his sharp bringing-to-heel of the Curia and his willingness to soften the Church’s stance on such issues as communion after remarriage has cemented an increasingly active resistance to his authority.

He has also not flinched at replacing cardinals with whom he doesn’t see eye to eye.

Who is trolling the Pope?

Pope Francis’s reforms polarise the Vatican

Humble lifestyle

Image copyright Bergoglio family Image caption Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born to an Italian immigrant railway worker

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires, of Italian descent. According to his official Vatican biography, he was ordained as a Jesuit in 1969, and went on to study in Argentina and Germany.

As a young man, he had a lung removed because of an infection.

Who are the Jesuits?

  • The Society of Jesus is a male order of the Catholic Church, with 19,000 members worldwide
  • It was established in 16th Century Europe as a missionary order, and members swear vows of poverty, chastity and obedience
  • The order became so powerful that it was suppressed at the end of the 18th Century but later restored
  • Jesuits have a reputation as expert communicators

He became a bishop in 1992 and Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998. At the 2005 conclave, he was seen as a contender for the papacy.

Image copyright AFP Image caption As archbishop of Buenos Aires (here in 2005), Cardinal Bergoglio was known for his humility and common touch

As Cardinal Bergoglio, his sermons always had an impact in Argentina and he often stressed social inclusion, indirectly criticising governments that did not pay attention to those on the margins of society, our Rome correspondent says.

Francesca Ambrogetti, who co-authored a biography of him, told Reuters news agency that part of his public appeal lay in his “sober and austere” lifestyle.

For the Church establishment, it was a novelty to have a Jesuit in charge – members are supposed to avoid ecclesiastical honours and serve the Pope himself.

Pope Francis in brief

  • Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires
  • Ordained as a Jesuit in 1969
  • Studied in Argentina, Chile and Germany
  • Became Cardinal of Buenos Aires in 1998
  • Seen as orthodox on sexual matters but strong on social justice
  • His papacy marks a return to modernising Church forces from the traditionalism of his predecessors

Francis: The Pope’s calling

His views were put to the test in Argentina, the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage and whose president at the time, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, promoted free contraception and artificial insemination.

The former cardinal appears to be a strong Argentine patriot, telling Argentine veterans of the Falklands War at a 2016 Mass: “We come to pray for all who have fallen, sons of the homeland who went out to defend their mother, the homeland, and to reclaim what is theirs.”

Junta years

One subject of controversy is his role under the Argentine military dictatorship of 1976-1983, when he led the country’s Jesuits.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Vatican has denied claims that Jorge Mario Bergoglio colluded with the military junta in Argentina in the 1970s

He was accused of effectively delivering two fellow priests into the hands of the military authorities in 1976 by declining to publicly endorse their social work in the slums of Buenos Aires, which infuriated the junta at the time, the BBC’s Vladimir Hernández reported.

Another accusation levelled against him from the “Dirty War” era is that he failed to follow up a request to help find the baby of a woman kidnapped when five months’ pregnant and killed in 1977. It is believed the baby was illegally adopted.

The Vatican strenuously denies Pope Francis was guilty of any wrongdoing under the Junta.

It emerged that in 2011 he took initial steps towards beatifying Argentine priests murdered under military rule. In a separate case, he also put forward for sainthood five Catholic churchmen who were killed at the St Patrick church in Buenos Aires, also in 1976.

And at the Pope’s request, the Vatican opened up its files on the Argentine dictatorship, to victims and their relatives.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist, who was jailed and tortured by the regime, told BBC News: “There were some bishops who were in collusion with the military, but Bergoglio is not one of them.”

Now that Pope Francis is in his 80s, and with his predecessor having established that popes do not have to remain in their role until death, the question arises whether he might himself decide to resign.

He has said “I would do the same!”, if his powers wane.

But having visited five countries in 2017 and with eight scheduled for 2018, he seems in good health, with plenty of his planned reforms not yet complete.

Updated March 13 at 4:02 p.m. ET.

The Catholic church has a new pope: Francis I. Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old will take the helm of the church less than a month after Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement. It’s unclear so far how Francis I will lead, but one thing is for sure: The new pontiff will have a grueling schedule.

The recently retired Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, John Paul II, both worked days that could stretch from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. or even midnight, said Don Briel, the director of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

“The papacy has assumed a much more visible, prominent role and has become, as a result, much more exhausting in terms of its obligations,” Briel told Live Science.

A pope’s duties

The broad job description for the role of pope is the head of the Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome. The pope is also the head of the sovereign city-state, Vatican City.

What this means on a daily basis is that the pope, in this case Pope Francis I, has duties both political and religious. The pope meets with heads of state and maintains diplomatic relationships with more than 100 nations. He conducts liturgies, appoints new bishops and travels.

He doesn’t, however, work like a corporate CEO, dipping into the local and daily workings of regional parishes, Briel said.

“He’s looking at a very broad overview of the universal church, the church as a whole,” he said.

A typical day starts early, with a private mass attended by household staff, Briel said. After breakfast, the morning might be spent writing epistles, or formal communications, as well as other works of religious scholarship. Much of the rest of the day is likely to be spent in meetings with bishops and political leaders from around the world.

The pope also ministers directly to the faithful, greeting pilgrims at General Audiences, which usually attract between several thousand and tens of thousands of people. Briel attended Benedict’s last General Audience in Rome in February, which drew 200,000, he said.

Around important holidays, such as Easter, the pope delivers major liturgies in St. Peter’s Cathedral or elsewhere in Rome. He also travels around the world, conducting masses for audiences that fill football stadiums.

Between popes

These nonstop duties are relatively new, Briel said. Before Pope Paul VI, who held office from 1963 to 1978, popes rarely traveled and had fewer political duties. As the church has become more of a diplomatic force, the role has become more demanding to meet the extra responsibilities.

When the papacy is vacant, however, all these activities come to a stop. All of the curial offices remain in suspension, Briel said. So no major decisions were made, and no new bishops were appointed during the conclave.

“The cardinals as a congregation have a general responsibility to make routine decisions, but nothing fundamentally of an extraordinary nature, so it’s simply in a state of pause,” Briel said before Francis I’s election.

Email Stephanie Pappas or follow her @sipappas. Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience, Facebook or Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

Heartless Serial Killer Showed No Remorse Until An Old Man Said Some Powerful Words

Pope Francis is considered the Pope with many firsts. He is the first Pope who uses the name Francis; He is the first Pope who hails from Latin America; and he is the first Jesuit Pope. In just less than 2 years as the High Pontiff, he has already done so many wonderful and incredible acts which have captured the attention of different people from all over the world. These are people who are not only Catholics but also with other religions. In fact, he has immediately been named by the Time’s Magazine as the “Person of the Year” for 2013.

Photo credit: theguardian.com

Check out some few among many great things that he has done as the Successor of Peter and Head of the Catholic Church.

1. He ditched the Pope Mobile

Photo credit: SF Globe

After Pope John Paul II got shot, the Vatican tried to keep the Pope safe by constructing the bulletproof Pope Mobile, but Francis has ditched it. To show his humility, he chose to ride in an ordinary car rather than in a luxurious one. After he was elected, he rode with the other Cardinals in the minibus. But not only that, instead of riding around in the a luxurious Mercedes, he choose this 20-year-old Renault to ride around the Vatican city. It was given to him as a gift with almost 200,000 miles on it. This is not clearly safe, but something tells me this awesome Pope is not too concerned about dying.

2. He instructed the Church’s officials to prioritize helping the poor and the sick

Photo credit: SF Globe

The Pope’s primary concern is the welfare of His people. With this, he created and established organizations that can become his loving hands.

3. He will embrace you no matter what you look like.

Photo credit: SF Globe

When Pope Francis saw Vinicia Riva, a man whose body is covered in boils, he did not hesitate to put his arms around him. This was an extraordinary action done by the Pope to a man who was often ridiculed in public. Such action has definitely renovated the man’s faith to our Saviour and Healer, Jesus Christ.

4. He admitted that he has no right to judge the gays and lesbians

Photo credit: SF Globe

He encouraged everyone, especially Christians, to respect the lives of homosexuals. He asserted that no one should judge homosexuals who painstakingly search for the Lord and do good things to others. However, he maintained that the work of the Church as the protector of the moral ascendency of the people should always be remembered.

5. He kissed the feet of prisoners

Photo credit: SF Globe

It was customary for the Pope to celebrate Holy Week in the Vatican. However, he showed the true meaning of Christ’s suffering and death by celebrating it at Casal del Marmo jail for minors. To commemorate the passion of Christ, he simply kissed the 12 feet of young offenders as a sign of humility despite being the Head of the Church. It became very touching when he also washed the feet of women and Muslims. Please take note that it was not a tradition to kiss the feet of the women and especially other religions during the Holy Week service.

6. He became one with the natives in protecting the Amazon Rainforest

Photo credit: SF Globe

As the Pope visited Brazil, he felt the need on the protection of the Amazon from the ranchers and farmers who are trying to overrun the natives.

7. He comforted a rape victim

Photo credit: SF Globe

A rape victim has revitalized her faith in God, when Pope Francis called her unexpectedly. She did not anticipate that a Pope would answer her letter. Well, he is one of a kind. He really gives time to ordinary people especially to those who are oppressed. The woman was spiritually comforted by Pope Francis.

8. He risked going out of the Vatican to feed the hungry

Photo credit: SF Globe

When he was still a bishop and cardinal, he was used of visiting the homeless, street children and the needy in order to let them feel that Christ was always present within them, especially during their turbulent moments. Being a Pope did not hinder him to continue this act of love. He disguised himself so that he can go out without security and joined Archbishop Konrad Krajewski to feed his poor neighbors.

9. He sold his luxurious motorcycle to fund a hostel and soup kitchen for the poor

Photo credit: SF Globe

A Harley Davidson motorcycle is one of the known motor bikes in the world. Without hesitation, he donated it to build something for the homeless.

10. He did not despise the atheists

Photo credit: SF Globe

This one might really raise a lot of eyebrows. In one of his Homily, Pope Francis suggested that doing good might be more important than believing the right things and he said, “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists.”

You might ask, where would he get such a blasphemous idea?! The Answer is simple: Jesus – who suggested that the Priest and the Levite (who believed all the right things) weren’t doing as good of a job of keeping the commandment to “love your neighbor” as that godless Samaritan. Another answer: The Bible, where it says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:2)

Pope Franchise asserted that “Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good.” Again, he changed another interpretation of Catholics about the atheist. He believed that everyone who does good to others will always have a chance to be with God even the atheists who do not believe in one supreme being.

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‘The Two Popes’: What’s fact and what’s fiction?

The release of “The Two Popes” on Nov. 27 brought renewed attention to the papacy of Benedict XVI (played by Anthony Hopkins) and the 2013 election of Pope Francis (played by Jonathan Pryce). But does the movie get the facts right? Yes and no.

Was Cardinal Bergoglio a contender at the 2005 conclave?

Yes, Francis (then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s nearest rival by the time of the third ballot. Cardinal Ratzinger (soon to be Pope Benedict XVI) was five votes shy of the required 77 necessary for election; Cardinal Bergoglio received 40 votes on the ballot (thus he was the “runner-up”).

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Bergoglio was a candidate for two reasons. One, he was well-known within the Latin American hierarchy for his participation at bishops’ conferences and had a stellar reputation for his pastoral work. He gained wider notice in church circles when he became a stand-in for Cardinal Edward Egan at a Vatican synod in the days after the 9/11 attacks, when Cardinal Egan had to return to New York. His summary of the meeting on such short notice was widely praised and gained him attention. And when Ratzinger was on the cusp of election in the 2005 conclave, Cardinal Bergoglio urged his brother cardinals to throw their support to Ratzinger, thus assuring his election, to Bergoglio’s obvious relief—he got to go home to Argentina.

When Cardinal Ratzinger was on the cusp of election in the 2005 conclave, Cardinal Bergoglio urged his brother cardinals to throw their support to Ratzinger, thus assuring his election.

Two accounts of the 2013 conclave differ. In his book, The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave that Changed History, Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent, reports Cardinal Bergoglio emerged as Pope Francis after five ballots, with 85 votes. Anthony McCarten, whose book The Pope: Francis, Benedict and the Decision That Shook the World provides the basis for “The Two Popes,” reports that Pope Francis was elected after six ballots, with 90 votes. When he was elected, he received friendly encouragement and comfort from his friend, Cardinal Claudio Hummes (emeritus bishop of São Paulo, Brazil), who urged him to “remember the poor,” thus giving Bergoglio the incentive to give himself the new papal name of Francis, after the saint from Assisi.

Did Jorge Bergoglio and Pope Benedict XVI meet to discuss Bergoglio’s retirement, as dramatized in the film?

No. This is a dramatic recreation of the facts. When bishops approach the required retirement age of 75, they are required to submit their resignation for the final disposition of the pope, who can extend a bishop’s tenure in office or accept it with alacrity. (Cardinal Bergoglio had already made plans for retirement when he selected a simple apartment in a house not far from where he grew up in Buenos Aires and where he served as the cardinal archbishop.)

This does not mean that Pope Benedict never met Bergoglio in the Vatican; he would have when the Argentine bishops made their “ad limina” visits.

Source: Benedict XVI: Last Testament by Peter Seewald

Does Benedict like Orange Fanta?

Yes, he often had a glass of Fanta when playing the piano. According to The Young Catholic blog (from 2010), a visiting English bishop was going to present His Holiness with a case of Holy Grail beer, a British brand, but discovered that Pope Benedict drank at least 4 cans of the soda every day! He also drank it at dinnertime. And why Fanta? Maybe because it was originally made in Germany. (When this story became public the company that owned the Fanta brand, Coca-Cola, promised to send the pope a few cases of Fanta so he wouldn’t run out.)

Pope Benedict XVI drank at least 4 cans of Orange Fanta every day.

Does Benedict watch the German television show ‘Kommissar Rex’?

I don’t know that this is true. His primary recreations are playing the piano and his scholarly pursuits in theology. According to Time Magazine, apart from watching the 8 p.m. news, he would watch old movies based on “The Little World of Don Camillo” series of books by Giovanni Guareschi about an Italian parish priest wrestling with the local Communist mayor.

I suspect that the insertion of this supposed “papal favorite” of Benedict XVI was something of a tongue-in-cheek allusion: a show about a German shepherd being watched by a “German shepherd.” Before being elected pope, Benedict had been Pope John Paul II’s prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office responsible for doctrinal orthodoxy. Cardinal Ratzinger’s reputation as the doctrinal “watchdog” earned him nicknames such as “God’s Rottweiler.” So I think the movie’s writers were having a little fun by making the allusion.

“Kommisar Rex,” about a detective squad and their crime-fighting dog, is an actual series. You can watch an episode here.

How accurate is the portrayal of Jorge Bergoglio’s actions during the Dirty War in Argentina?

These flashback scenes are largely consistent with the reporting on this period in Bergoglio’s life. Bergoglio had to walk a fine line in those days and, as he said, it was “crazy” for someone in his thirties to be made provincial of the Argentine Jesuits at such a contentious time.

According to reporting from the Associated Press, Francisco Jalics and another priest, Orlando Yorio, were kidnapped in 1976. “Bergoglio has said he told the priests to give up their work in slums for their own safety, and they refused,” the A.P. reported. “Yorio, who is now dead, later accused Bergoglio of effectively delivering them to the death squads by declining to publicly endorse their work.” Bergoglio did later reconcile with Father Jalics and they did celebrate Mass together, as portrayed in the film. Bergoglio also did try (however imperfectly) to save the two Jesuits when they were being tortured by the regime.

Did Francis did spend a period of “exile” in Córdoba?

Yes, he was removed to Córdoba after his period as provincial. He was far removed from the center of church activity in Buenos Aires; he spent his time in the “backwater” in deep reflection—two years—while doing pastoral work, teaching and hearing confessions. It was there that he learned to live a simple way of life, which he carried with him as a cardinal and as pope. People considered it almost a “resurrection” when he was named co-adjutor to Cardinal Antonio Quarracino of Buenos Aires with the right to succession to his post upon the cardinal’s death. When Bergoglio became the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had his predecessor’s vestments altered and wore them instead of purchasing new ones, very much in keeping with his lifestyle of simplicity.

It is highly improbable that a pope would consult a cardinal from the other side of the world who was not part of the Curia or an “insider.”

Is the story of the betrayal of Benedict XVI by his butler true?

Yes. Benedict pardoned Paolo Gabriele, who was given an 18-month jail sentence, in 2012 for stealing personal documents and other papers from the pope’s office and giving them to an Italian journalist, which became the basis of the book His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, commonly known as the “Vatileaks” scandal.

Did Francis disagree with Benedict’s decision to resign?

This scene from the movie is another dramatization of the facts. In the books that I have read, this “consultation” never happened. It is highly improbable that a pope would consult a cardinal from the other side of the world who was not part of the Curia or an “insider.” Showing both men meeting and hashing out their different worldviews in the Vatican gardens and the Sistine Chapel made for great drama, and contrasted the two churchmen’s approaches to the church to great effect.

Did Benedict tell Francis about his resignation plans before anyone else?

According to Gerard O’Connell, Benedict made this decision entirely on his own and only told his personal secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, his brother, Father Georg Ratzinger and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals—no one else.

Did Francis call Benedict before his announcement as the new pope?

Both Peter Seewald, in his book Benedict XVI: Last Testament, and Gerard O’Connell report that this is true. It took a while before anyone in Benedict’s entourage answered the phone, but the two men talked before the formal announcement was made. Benedict was greatly touched by the new pope’s gesture toward him.

Is Francis a fan of the San Lorenzo soccer team?

Yes, he has been a fan of San Lorenzo ever since his youth; his father was also a big fan of the club. Francis’ football allegiance is a central part of the biography of his early and later life.

Did Francis and Benedict watch the World Cup together when Argentina played Germany?

That is doubtful. Benedict is not a known fan of any sport, so it is doubtful he would spend time watching sporting events on television. However, the final scene of the two popes watching a football match was rather funny, and made funnier still by Benedict’s reaction to how the game was played.

10 facts about Pope Francis

Here are some facts about the new Pope:

  • Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born Dec. 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of five children born to an Italian railway worker and his wife
  • He speaks Spanish, Italian and German.
  • He reportedly had a lung removed when he was a teenager due to an infection.
  • He rides a bus to work, wears an ordinary priest’s robe and lives with an older priest in a simple apartment where he cooks his own meals, rather than live at the luxurious residence he was entitled to as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
  • He has written books on spirituality and meditation and has been outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages, according to the Catholic News Service.
  • He is the first Jesuit to be named a pope. He entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained in 1969 during his theological studies at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel.
  • He has chosen the name Francis — the first time in papal history that name has been used.
  • He is the first pope from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than 1,000 years.
  • Even though he has no Vatican experience, he becomes the 266th pontiff in the Roman Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history.
  • He was the second choice of the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger, known as Benedict XVI, as pope eight years ago.

27 Facts About Pope Francis

Pope Francis is about to make his first visit to the United States.

According to his schedule, Francis will arrive in the United States on Sept. 22, and he will visit Washington, New York City, and Philadelphia.

Here are 27 facts about Pope Francis:

1. According to his biography on the Vatican’s website, Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires on Dec. 17, 1936.

2. His parents, an accountant and a homemaker, were Italian immigrants who had five children.

3. He became pontiff on March 13, 2013.

4. He told reporters that he chose the name Francis to honor St. Francis of Assisi, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation,” according to Catholic News Service. No other pope has chosen the name Francis.

5. He is the first pope from South America, and the first pope born outside Europe in over 1,000 years.

6. In his first papal appearance, he led the faithful in prayer and asked them to pray for him.

7. Following his election as pope, Francis returned to the hotel he had stayed in while in Rome to pay his own bill, the Associated Press reported.

8. Francis rejected the typical papal apartment for the less formal St. Martha’s House, where he lives among fellow priests. He also lived simply as an archbishop, relying upon public transportation and cooking his own meals, according to a Vatican spokesman.

9. He also “chose not to wear the red shoes made specifically for him, but rather, chose to continue wearing his old, worn-out black shoes from Buenos Aires,” according to Catholic News Agency.

10. Francis once worked as a bar bouncer, Catholic News Service reported.

11. He was ordained a Jesuit priest on Dec. 13, 1969, and is the first Jesuit pope. A Jesuit is a member of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

12. Pope, now Saint, John Paul II ordained then-Archbishop Bergoglio on Feb. 21, 2001, and he later participated in the conclave that elected Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

13. He has been known throughout his papacy to surprise people who write to him with phone calls, with such frequency that an Italian newspaper published an etiquette guide to a phone call with him.

14. Francis will be the first pope to address a joint session of Congress, according to House Speaker John Boehner’s office.

15. Francis had to have one of his lungs removed when he was a teenager after an infection, ABC News reported.

16. He told his biographers, Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin, “I love tango and I used to dance when I was young,” The Telegraph reported.

17. He was trained as a chemical technician before joining the seminary, according to his biography.

18. He has written two encyclicals, or circular letters to the faithful, “Lumen Fidei” and “Laudato Si’.”

19. According to USA Today, Francis drives a used 1984 Renault 4 to travel around the Vatican grounds.

20. In preparation for his trip to the United States, Francis recently held a virtual town hall with Americans hosted by ABC News.

21. Francis once had a girlfriend before he joined the priesthood. “She was one of a group of friends with whom I used to go dancing with,” he said, according to the Inquisitr. “Then I discovered my religious vocation.”

22. According to The Telegraph, Francis speaks “Italian, German and Spanish fluently, in addition to a smattering of English, French and Portuguese. He can also speak a bit of the Piedmontaise dialect too.”

23. He was named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine in 2013, the year of his election.

24. Following the example set by Benedict, who was the first pope to use Twitter, Francis tweets using the handle @Pontifex, Latin for “bridge builder.” He is the most retweeted world leader, according to the Catholic News Service.

25. He is a fan of the San Lorenzo soccer team, The Telegraph reported.

26. He has his own emojis. Swyft Media made a set of emojis in honor of his visit to the United States: Popemojis.

27. Francis is the 266th pope.

First International Visit as Pope

Pope Francis made his first international visit on July 22, 2013, when he arrived at the Galeão-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, he was greeted by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in a welcome ceremony and later circulated in downtown Rio in order to be “close to the people.”

While in Rio, Pope Francis was on hand to celebrate World Youth Day. More than three million people attended the pontiff’s closing mass at the event. On his way back to Rome, Pope Francis surprised reporters traveling with him regarding his seemingly open stance on gay Catholics. According to The New York Times, he told the press: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” His remarks were heralded by several gay and lesbian groups as a welcoming gesture by the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope as Spiritual and World Leader

In September 2013, Pope Francis called for others to join him in praying for peace in Syria. The pontiff held a special vigil in St. Peter’s Square on September 7, which was attended by an estimated 100,000 people. According to the Catholic News Service, Francis told the crowd that “When man thinks only of himself… permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power…, hen the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict.”

The pope implored those involved in the conflict to find a peaceful solution. “Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation.”

Later that month, Pope Francis gave a revealing interview to an Italian Jesuit publication called La Civiltà Cattolica. He explained that religious dialogue must be broader in scope, not simply focused on such issues as homosexuality and abortion. “We have to find a new balance; otherwise, even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel,” the pope said. “The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”

While he does not believe women should be ordained as priests, Francis considers women an essential part of the church. “The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions,” he said. He also continued to present a more accepting attitude toward homosexuality than previous pontiffs, saying that “God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person,” according to The Guardian.

In early December 2013, Pope Francis gave an “apostolic exhortation,” an address calling for big changes in the Catholic Church, including rethinking long-held but antiquated customs. “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,” he stated. “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.”

Also in December 2013, Pope Francis was named Person of the Year by Time magazine. Pope Francis — having joined the ranks of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, the only other popes to be awarded the title in 1994 and 1963, respectively—was a contender against other prominent figures of the year, including Edward Snowden, Senator Ted Cruz, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Edith Windsor. In the article, it was revealed that the deciding factor that led to Pope Francis landing at the top of the list, was his ability to alter the minds of so many people who had given up on the Catholic church in such a short period of time

The following March, it was announced that Pope Francis had been nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. He did not receive this honor, but he continued to devote his time to reach out to Catholics around the world. During that summer, Pope Francis went on his first visit to Asia. He spent five days in South Korea in August.

On his return trip from South Korea, Pope Francis discussed his own mortality with the press. “Two or three years and then I’ll be off to my Father’s house,” he said, according to a report in The Guardian. He also suffered a personal loss around that same time after several members of his family were killed in a car accident in Argentina.

Progressive Stances

That fall, Pope Francis showed himself to be progressive on several scientific issues. He told the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that he supported the Big Bang theory and evolution. According to The Independent newspaper, Pope Francis said that “The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.” He also said that evolution “is not inconsistent with the notion of creation.”

Throughout late 2014 and into 2015, Pope Francis continued his pattern of deep engagement with both political and environmental conflicts around the world. He spoke out against global abuses and the misuse of political and economic power, lamenting the disappearances and suspected murders of 43 students in Mexico; the dangers and losses of life caused by immigration; financial mismanagement within the church itself; and sexual abuse. His decision to crack down on church corruption and excommunicate members of the Mafia were hailed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, though they also caused him to receive death threats.

The Pope tackled other political blockades too, bringing together Presidents Raul Castro, of Cuba, and President Barack Obama, of the United States, in a historic meeting that precipitated significant foreign policy changes. Finally, his ambitious schedule of travel continued, with visits to Paraguay, Bolivia, and Ecuador, as have beatifications. To date, he has beatified more than three dozen people, including Óscar Romero, a priest from El Salvador who was assassinated in 1980 because of his espousal of liberation theology and his activism to protect marginalized people.

In September 2015, Pope Francis continued to stir up the status quo in the Catholic Church when he announced that priests around the world will be allowed to forgive the “sin of abortion” during a “year of mercy,” which starts December 8, 2015 and ends November 20, 2016. The Pope wrote about this act of compassion in a letter, stating: “I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope.”

He added: “The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

On November 21, 2016, as the Jubilee Year of Mercy ended, the Vatican announced that the Pope had extended the dispensation to all priests to absolve “the grave sin” of abortion. The policy was documented in an apostolic letter written by the Pope, which stated: ” . . .I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”

In November 2017, Pope Francis visited Myanmar amid a humanitarian crisis that had sparked the exodus of more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country. The pope first met with powerful military General Min Aung Hlaing, who refuted reports of ethnic cleansing by claiming there was “no religious discrimination in Myanmar.”

He then made a joint appearance with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to deliver a highly anticipated speech in which he called for tolerance, but also avoided using the delicate term “Rohingya” and stopped short of condemning the persecution, drawing criticism from those who wanted to see a more forceful stance. The Pope also met with other religious leaders, after which he headed to Bangladesh to show support for Rohingya refugees.

During a television interview in early December, Pope Francis suggested a small but meaningful change to “Our Father,” commonly known as the “Lord’s Prayer.” One line in the prayer had been recited for generations in English as “lead us not into temptation,” but the Pope said that was “not a good translation,” pointing out the French Catholic translation, “do not let us fall into temptation” as a more appropriate alternative.

After expressing support of breastfeeding in public during the annual Holy Mass on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in 2017, the Pope made similar comments during the 2018 ceremony. Noting how one baby crying would spark others to follow suit, he said that if the babies in attendance were “starting a concert” of crying because they were hungry, then mothers should feel free to feed them right there as part of the “language of love.”

In August 2018, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had approved a change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church that now considers the death penalty “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” The church explained the new policy as an “evolution” of the previous doctrine, which allowed consideration of capital punishment if it were “the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” The Pope had previously spoken out against the death penalty, saying it violated the Gospel.

Sexual Abuse

Normally greeted by adoring crowds, Pope Francis faced hostility ahead of his three-day trip to Chile in January 2018, stemming from lingering anger over his appointment of a bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by another priest. At least five churches were attacked in the days leading up to his visit, with vandals leaving a threatening message directed at the Pope in one case.

Upon his arrival, Pope Francis delivered a speech in which he asked for forgiveness for the pain caused by some ministers of the church and promised to do his best to make sure such abuse never happened again. However, he subsequently angered sexual abuse victims by claiming he had yet to learn of any “proof” of an alleged cover-up by the bishop in question.

Shortly after the Pope returned to Rome in late January, the Vatican announced that it was dispatching Archbishop Charles Scicluna—the church’s “Eliot Ness” of sex abuse investigations—to Chile to look into the issue and “hear those who have expressed the desire to provide elements in their possession.”

The archbishop’s investigation, which included interviews with dozens of witnesses and produced a 2,300-page report, had a powerful effect on Pope Francis. In April, the Vatican announced that Chilean bishops were being summoned to Rome for emergency discussions, and released a letter in which the Pope acknowledged “serious mistakes” in his handling of the matter, saying he felt “pain and shame” for the “crucified lives” of victims.

Late in the month, it was announced that the Pope would host three of the victims from Chile. The Vatican said that the Pope would meet with each man individually, “allowing each one to speak for as long as they wish.”

In August 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury report described the actions of more than 300 “predator priests” and their 1,000-plus underage victims, as well as attempts to cover up their misdeeds. Initially silent, the Pope weighed in with a letter released by the Vatican nearly a week later, in which he acknowledged “with shame and repentance” the church’s failure to properly act in response to the longstanding allegations.

Days later, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former top Vatican diplomat in the United States, published a letter that accused Pope Francis of covering up reports of sexual abuse by recently resigned Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, D.C.

After defrocking McCarrick in February 2019, the Pope convened a four-day summit at the Vatican devoted to the longstanding problem of sexual abuse. Titled “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” the summit drew 190 church leaders from around the world. However, its conclusion was followed by news that the Pope’s financial adviser, Australian Cardinal George Pell, had been convicted of sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys.

In December 2019, Pope Francis announced that the church would be abolishing the rule of “pontifical secrecy” in matters related to sexual abuse, allowing for increased cooperation with secular authorities. The Pope also raised the age at which the Vatican considers the subjects of pornographic images to be grouped under child pornography from 14 to 18.

Pope as Environmental Activist

In June 2015, Pope Francis spoke out about the environment. He released a 184-page encyclical, a type of Papal message, warning of the dangers of climate change. In this letter, entitled “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis wrote: “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.”

Pope Francis chided world leaders for failing to “reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements on the environment.” He also called for “highly polluting fossil fuels” to be “progressively replaced without delay.” And while improving and protecting the environment will be difficult, the situation is not hopeless, according to Pope Francis. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.” The encyclical was considered significant by environmentalists and church observers alike because it was not directed exclusively to Catholics, but to everyone in the world.

‘A Man of His Word’

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word debuted at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The documentary, written and directed by Wim Wenders, shows the Pope’s “work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions from death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.” A co-production with the Vatican, the film also follows the Pope on his journeys around to world to places like the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem and Ground Zero to the Holy Land and Africa.

Related Profiles

Pope Benedict XVI

John Paul II

Francis

Papacy

In February 2013 Pope Benedict XVI resigned, citing old age and health concerns. A conclave was convened in early March, spurring hopes that Benedict’s replacement could be elected and installed before the impending Easter holiday. Bergoglio was elected on the fifth ballot and chose the name Francis, in honour of St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82–1226), who lived a life of humble service to the poor, and also recalling St. Francis Xavier (1506–52), a founding member of the Jesuits. Although he was the first Pope Francis and was widely referred to as “Francis I,” he declined to use the Roman numeral I to indicate that he was the first to use his papal name. (Traditionally, the numeral I is not added to a pope’s name until after a second pope of the same name has been elected. John Paul I was the first pope to use the numeral during his reign.)

Francis took charge of a church at a crossroads. In the early 21st century Roman Catholics constituted more than one-sixth of the world’s population, many of them in Latin America and Africa. Yet scandals, particularly the clergy sexual-abuse scandals that first arose in the 1980s and ’90s, had undermined the church’s stature, particularly in the United States and Europe. In his earliest public addresses and in his first public mass, Francis called for spiritual renewal within the church and greater attention to the plight of the poor, and he sternly condemned the forces that diverted the church from its ministry and set it at risk of becoming a “pitiful NGO.” He also reached out to his political opponents, including Fernández, whom he invited to his first official papal address. Yet he incensed some traditionalists by appearing on that occasion in a simple tunic rather than in the more-traditional papal garments. He also took the unprecedented step later in 2013 of appointing a council of eight cardinals to advise him on church policy. His remark in that year that Christ had “redeemed all of us,” even non-Catholics, were broadly interpreted by the media as a message of outreach and goodwill toward atheists and agnostics, though a Vatican spokesman later claimed that Francis had been misinterpreted.

Francis soon became noted for making statements that similarly conveyed an openness to different perspectives on Catholic doctrine, particularly regarding social issues and sexual ethics. Such statements were subsequently either toned down by the Vatican or seemingly contradicted by Francis himself. For example, Francis surprised both liberals and traditionalists when in a September 2013 interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine he criticized the church for having been “obsessed” with issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and birth control. That remark encouraged speculation both within and outside the church that a major shift in Catholic teaching and practice on such matters as same-sex marriage and contraception would follow. Yet in the following year Francis spoke out against same-sex marriage and defended the “traditional” family. Moreover, he affirmed the church’s categorical opposition to abortion. Although Francis spoke sympathetically of women’s rights and acknowledged women’s historic role in the church, he did not endorse the ordination of women as priests.

The lingering effects of the church’s sexual-abuse scandal constituted another challenge facing Francis’s papacy. During a visit by Dutch bishops in December 2013, Francis prayed for victims of sexual abuse and urged the bishops to reach out to them and their families. In January 2014 the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Rights of the Child recommended that the Vatican adopt procedures for the mandatory reporting of suspected child abusers to law-enforcement authorities but was rebuffed later that year on jurisdictional grounds. Critics observed that the Vatican was slow to punish and defrock priests who were known pedophiles.

A central dimension of Francis’s papacy was championing the poor and oppressed, and from the start he promoted a broad ministry that aimed to include not only non-Catholic Christians but even non-Christians. He drew traditionalists’ ire soon after taking office when he washed the feet of two young women, including a Muslim, in a juvenile detention centre during the traditional Maundy Thursday reenactment of Jesus’ washing of the feet of the Twelve Apostles. (Church tradition held that women could not participate in the ceremony because the Apostles were men.) In November 2013 he issued Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), an apostolic exhortation in which he denounced economic inequality and called upon the church to embrace its global diversity. In August 2014 Francis publicly denounced the alleged persecutions of Christians and religious minorities such as the Yazīdīs by the transnational Sunni insurgent group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; also called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ).

In June 2015 Francis issued Laudato si’ (“Praise be to you”), the first encyclical of his papacy. Laudato si’ proclaimed that environmental degradation was “a moral issue” spurred by greed and unchecked capitalism, which caused human beings to lose sight of the relationships that bound them together and to neglect Earth, their “common home.” Promoting the concept of “integral ecology,” Francis connected sinful actions against the natural world with the economic exploitation of impoverished human beings and the denigration of human rights. The document was also noteworthy for its endorsement of the rights of indigenous peoples. However, it polarized many Catholics, especially in the United States.

Three months after issuing Laudato si’, Francis made his first visit to the United States, where he became the first pope to address the U.S. Congress. He once again courted controversy by holding the first canonization mass in the U.S. in honour of Junípero Serra, an 18th-century Spanish missionary whose role in the colonization of the Americas had been criticized by indigenous-rights groups. In New York City, Francis addressed the UN General Assembly and urged the world’s leaders to promote peace. He concluded his tour in Philadelphia, with an address before the World Meeting of Families and an open-air Spanish-language mass. In February 2016 he and Kirill I, patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, held the first-ever meeting between the leaders of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches.

Matt Stefon

In April 2016 Francis issued his second exhortation, Amoris laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), a wide-ranging pronouncement on family issues. In it he urged priests and bishops to take a more welcoming, and less judgmental, attitude toward homosexuals, single parents, and the divorced who remarried but who had not obtained an annulment, indicating in the latter case that such Catholics might be permitted to receive Holy Communion through the guidance of a priest. He did not, however, lift their formal exclusion from the sacrament, and he reaffirmed the church’s rejection of same-sex marriage and of contraception.

In August 2018 Francis revised the catechism of the Catholic church to fully reject the death penalty. Formerly, capital punishment was permitted when it was seen as the only means of defending human lives against an unjust aggressor. The revision states that the death penalty is “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” Long a vocal critic of the death penalty, Francis said that the church would work to abolish capital punishment worldwide.

In February 2019 Francis became the first pope ever to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, in a trip meant to promote religious fraternity and peace. In his three-day visit to Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, he attended the Global Conference on Human Fraternity and met with Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque and one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam. He also celebrated a papal mass attended by an estimated 180,000 people, many of whom were Christian immigrants, in what was the largest display of Christian worship in the country’s history.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

SEATTLE — The first Latin American head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is one of the world’s biggest humanitarians and one of the most powerful individuals on Earth. He has garnered widespread attention for his work with refugees, environmental advocacy, promoting social equality and other poverty alleviation efforts.

Before rising to the highest and most prestigious rank of the Church, Pope Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2013. He was also cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina from 2001 to 2013, and president of the Bishop’s Conference of Argentina between 2005 and 2011.

Pope Francis’s childhood played a pivotal role in paving the way for many of the successes he achieved later in life. Consequently, the following facts chronicle the early life and experiences of the 266th Pope.

10 Facts About Pope Francis’s Childhood

  1. Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 1936, Pope Francis was the oldest of five children and was born in the neighborhood of Flores in Buenos Aires to a family of Italian origin.
  2. Pope Francis’s childhood was heavily influenced by his upbringing in Buenos Aires as well as his Italian heritage. His father, an immigrant from Piedmont, arrived in the 1920s, while his mother was born in Argentina but was the daughter of Italian immigrants from Piedmont. During his childhood, he became fluent in both Italian and Spanish.
  3. Leading a reasonably modest and humble lifestyle himself, Bergoglio understood the plight of different social groups and was socially conscious from a very young age due to his environment and upbringing.
  4. From an early age, Bergoglio’s parents imparted good values to their children, such as discipline. For instance, Bergoglio and his siblings always had to clean their plates at dinner time and try their best to avoid wasting food.
  5. Through a variety of experiences, Bergoglio grew familiar with different walks of life in Argentina. He worked as a student, as a bouncer at a club, as a janitor and even as a laboratory technician after receiving his diploma.
  6. Given the political atmosphere of Argentina at the time, the young Bergoglio was captivated by Juan and Eva Peron and the rise of Peronism in Argentina. These ideals had a profound impact on an impressionable Bergoglio. Peronism contributed to a majority of the social and political reform Argentina witnessed at that time, particularly the advancement and empowerment of many working-class individuals and rural sectors, as well as successes in redistribution of income.
  7. The true picture of Pope Francis’s childhood is embedded in the cultural wave he experienced growing up in Argentina as a young boy. There was a major revival in society as social classes grew more unified and the working classes triumphed in a new and renewed economic atmosphere. Consequently, Bergoglio was fascinated by the Jewish community around him and loved literature and watching local plays in his town.
  8. According to his sister, Bergoglio was a natural born scholar and always loved to study. As a result, he was interested in a wide array of subjects, from philosophy and psychology to the natural sciences. His life philosophy revolved around moderation, as he never allowed himself to indulge too much, but was still willing to keep an open mind to pursue new endeavors and new experiences.
  9. As a major part of Pope Francis’s childhood was also largely influenced by his love of science, he learned to view ideas with more rationality and objectivity. Upon graduation, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, and a degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of Buenos Aires.
  10. After an epiphanic moment, Bergoglio was inspired to take up seminary studies at Villa Devoto in Buenos Aires at the age of 21. Yet, he was only ordained much later, at age 33 in 1969. Shortly after this, he paid a short visit to Jerusalem for a pilgrimage.

Overall, Pope Francis’s childhood enabled him to take on many of the challenges he pursued later in his life and was a fitting precursor to his ascension in the ranks of the Catholic Church. The initial parts of his remarkable journey will continue to remain a very vital part of his legacy.

– Shivani Ekkanath

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