The Vatican just announced that the newly elected 266th Pope of 1.5 billion Catholics across the world is an Argentinian, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
76-year-old Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife. A childhood infection left him with only one lung.
A Jesuit, Bergoglio had spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests. He was Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2001, when he was elevated to be a Cardinal.
As Cardinal, Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to the poor. Known for a simple lifestyle, he lives in a small apartment, rather than in the palatial bishop’s residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and he reportedly cooks his own meals.
The Wikipedia entry on Bergoglio describes him as a solid cultural conservative who’s:
- Pro-life and opposed to abortion and euthanasia. In a 2007 speech, Bergoglio called abortion a death sentence for unborn children, and likened opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.
- Opposed to same-sex marriage but is emphatic on respect for homosexuals as persons and compassion for those with AIDS.
- Opposed to the neo-Marxist ideology of Liberation Theology, which had originated in Latin America.
The former Cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, taking the papal name Francisco or Francis. Pope Francis is the first pope who was born outside of Europe, and the first pope from the Americas.
The Vatican said he chose the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, who formed the Franciscan order, saying that the new Pope is a ‘lover of the poor’.
Pope Francis is multilingual, speaking German, Spanish and Italian.
CBS News papal consultant Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo said Bergoglio “did not want to be pope. This man did not expect to be pope,” adding that Bergoglio’s selection is an “incredibly courageous choice.”
Bergoglio is not a favorite of the Vatican curia. “This man now has a clear mandate from 115 cardinals to come in and clear out the curia,” Monsignor Figueiredo said.
In his first public appearance as Pope Francis, he begged the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square to “pray for me.” He said, “Let’s begin this long road from the Bishop of Rome to the people. Let us all behave with love and charity. Let us pray always not just for ourselves, but for others, for everyone in the word.”
Elected on the fifth ballot on the second day of deliberations, the new pope was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation.
In 2005, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the clear front-runner and was elected on the fourth ballot. According to most reports, Cardinal Bergoglio had come in second. In 1978, Pope John Paul II was elected on the eighth ballot to become the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
We thank all our gracious readers who have only good wishes in their hearts for the new Pope Francis.
~Eowyn & Joan