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Pope Francis

Background Information

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Francisco (20-03-2013).jpg
Pope Francis in March 2013
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
by John Paul II
Personal details
Birth name Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Born (1936-12-17) 17 December 1936
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Argentine with Vatican citizenship
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
Signature {{{signature_alt}}}
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Francis (Latin: Franciscus [franˈtʃiskus], Italian: Francesco [franˈtʃesko], Spanish: Francisco [fɾanˈsisko]; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936) is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013. As such, he is Bishop of Rome, the head of the worldwide Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State.

Born in Buenos Aires of Italian descent, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technician before entering seminary; he was ordained in 1969. From 1973 to 1979 he was Argentina's Provincial superior of the Society of Jesus, became Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and was created cardinal in 2001. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, on 13 March 2013 the papal conclave elected Bergoglio, who chose the papal name Francis in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi. Bergoglio is the first Jesuit pope; the first pope from the Americas, and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere.

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. Since his election to the papacy, he has displayed a simpler and less formal approach to the office, including a decision to reside in the Vatican guesthouse rather than the papal residence used by his predecessors since 1903.

Early life

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Flores, a district of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest of five children of Mario José Bergoglio, an Italian immigrant railway worker born in Portacomaro ( Province of Asti) in Italy's Piedmont region, and his wife Regina María Sívori, a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin. Bergoglio's sister María Elena told reporters decades later that her father often said that "the advent of fascism was the reason that really pushed him to leave" Italy. She is the pope's only living sibling.

Bergoglio has been a supporter of the San Lorenzo de Almagro football club since his childhood. Bergoglio is also a fan of the films of Tita Merello and of neorealism and of tango dancing, with an "intense fondness" for the traditional music of Argentina and Uruguay known as the milonga.

As a sixth-grade pupil, Bergoglio attended Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles, a Don Bosco Salesian school in Ramos Mejía in Greater Buenos Aires.

He attended the technical secondary school Escuela Nacional de Educación Técnica N° 27 Hipólito Yrigoyen and graduated with a chemical technician's diploma. He worked for a few years in that capacity in the foods section at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory. In the only known health crisis of his youth, at the age of 21 he suffered from life-threatening pneumonia and three cysts and had part of a lung removed shortly afterwards.

Pre-papal career


Ordination history of Pope Francis
Priestly ordination
Ordained by Ramón José Castellano
Date of ordination 13 December 1969
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator Antonio Quarracino
Co-consecrator Ubaldo Calabresi
Co-consecrator Emilio Ogñénovich
Date of consecration 27 June 1992
Date elevated to cardinal 21 February 2001
Bishops consecrated by Pope Francis as principal consecrator
Horacio Ernesto Benites Astoul 1 May 1999
Jorge Rubén Lugones 30 July 1999
Jorge Eduardo Lozano 25 March 2000
Joaquín Mariano Sucunza 21 October 2000
José Antonio Gentico 28 April 2001
Fernando Carlos Maletti 18 September 2001
Andrés Stanovnik 16 December 2001
Mario Aurelio Poli 20 April 2002
Eduardo Horacio García 16 August 2003
Adolfo Armando Uriona 8 May 2004
Eduardo Maria Taussig 25 September 2004
Raúl Martín 20 May 2006
Hugo Manuel Salaberry Goyeneche 21 August 2006
Óscar Vicente Ojea Quintana 2 September 2006
Hugo Nicolás Barbaro 4 July 2008
Enrique Eguía Seguí 11 October 2008
Ariel Edgardo Torrado Mosconi 13 December 2008
Luis Alberto Fernández 27 March 2009
Vicente Bkalic Iglic 29 May 2010
Alfredo Horacio Zecca 17 September 2011

Bergoglio studied at the archdiocesan seminary Inmaculada Concepción in Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires City, and after three years entered the Society of Jesus as a novice on 11 March 1958. Bergoglio says that as a young seminarian, he "was dazzled by a girl I met at an uncle's wedding", so much so that he "could not pray for over a week" because he could not help thinking of her, and so he "had to rethink what I was doing". As a Jesuit novice he studied humanities in Santiago, Chile. At the conclusion of his noviciate in the Society of Jesus, Bergoglio officially became a Jesuit on 12 March 1960, when he made the religious profession of the initial, temporary vows of a member of the Order.

In 1960, Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel, Buenos Aires Province; in 1964 and 1965, he taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada, a high school in the Province of Santa Fe, Argentina, and in 1966 he taught the same courses at the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires City.

In 1967, Bergoglio finished his theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood on 13 December 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He attended the Facultades de Filosofía y Teología de San Miguel (Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel), a seminary in San Miguel. He served as the Master of novices for the Province there and became a professor of theology.

Father Bergoglio completed his final stage of spiritual formation as a Jesuit, tertianship, at Alcalá de Henares, Spain, and took his perpetual vows in the Society of Jesus on 22 April 1973. He was named Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina on 31 July 1973 and served until 1979. After the completion of his term of office, in 1980 he was named the rector of the seminary in San Miguel (it is unclear which one), and served in that capacity until 1986. He spent several months at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany, while considering possible dissertation topics, before returning to Argentina to serve as a confessor and spiritual director to the Jesuit community in Córdoba. In Germany he saw the painting Mary Untier of Knots in Augsburg and brought a copy of the painting to Argentina where it has become an important Marian devotion.

According to Ukrainian Catholic Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, before becoming a bishop, Bergoglio was mentored by Salesian Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest Stefan Czmil and while at the Salesian school, often woke up hours before his classmates so that he could celebrate Mass with Czmil.


Bergoglio was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and was ordained on 27 June 1992 as Titular Bishop of Auca, with Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, serving as principal consecrator. On 3 June 1997, Bergoglio was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires with right of automatic succession. His episcopal motto was Miserando atque eligendo. It is drawn from Bede's homily on Matthew 9:9-13: "because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him".

Upon Quarracino's death on 28 February 1998, Bergoglio became Metropolitan Archbishop of Buenos Aires and, months later, on 6 November 1998, he was appointed to hold, concurrently with the office of Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the post of ordinary for those Eastern Catholics in Argentina who lacked a prelate of their own rite. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio created new parishes and restructured the archdiocese administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives, and created a commission on divorces. Archbishop Shevchuk has said that Bergoglio understands the liturgy, rites, and spirituality of his Greek Catholic Church and always "took care of our Church in Argentina" as ordinary for Eastern Catholics during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

On of Bergoglio's major pushes as archbishop was the increase the Church's presence in the slums of Buenos Aires. Under his leadership the number of priests assigned to work in the slums doubled.

In 2000, Bergoglio was the only church official to reconcile with a former bishop and defrocked priest, Jerónimo Podestá, and he defended Podestá's wife from Vatican attacks on their marriage. According to a report in L'espresso, Bergoglio "asked the entire Church in Argentina to put on garments of public penance for the sins committed during the years of the dictatorship", in reference to the participation of members of the Catholic Church in the Dirty War that was fought in the country in the 1970s.

Bergoglio made it his custom to celebrate the Holy Thursday ritual washing of feet in "a jail, a hospital, a home for the elderly or with poor people". One year he washed the feet of newborn children and pregnant women. In his first Holy Thursday as pope, Francis continued this custom, visiting a jail in Rome where he washed the feet of twelve inmates aged 14 to 21, among them two women; the first woman was a Serbian Muslim, the second was an Italian Catholic.

In 2007, just two days after Benedict XVI issued new rules for using the liturgical forms that preceded the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Bergoglio was one of the first bishops in the world to respond by instituting a Tridentine Mass in Buenos Aires. It was celebrated weekly.

On 8 November 2005, Bergoglio was elected president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–08). He was reelected to another three-year term on 11 November 2008. He remained a member of that Commission's permanent governing body, president of its committee for the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, and a member of its liturgy committee for the care of shrines.

According to the Washington Post, "In one of his last acts as head of the Argentine Catholic bishops' conference, ... Bergoglio issued a collective apology for the church's failure to protect its flock" from Argentina's military dictatorship during the Dirty War.

When he turned 75 in December 2011, Bergoglio submitted his resignation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires to Pope Benedict XVI as required by Canon Law.


At the consistory of 21 February 2001, Archbishop Bergoglio was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II with the title of cardinal-priest of San Roberto Bellarmino, a church served by Jesuits and named for one. When he traveled to Rome for the ceremony, he and his sister María Elena visited the village in northern Italy where their father was born.

As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to five administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He was member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Commission for Latin America.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2008

Later that year, when Cardinal Edward Egan returned to New York following the September 11 attacks, Bergoglio replaced him as relator (recording secretary) in the Synod of Bishops and, according to the Catholic Herald, created "a favourable impression as a man open to communion and dialogue".

Cardinal Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle contributed to his reputation for humility. He lived in a small apartment, rather than in the elegant bishop's residence in the suburb of Olivos. He took public transportation and cooked his own meals. He limited his time in Rome to "lightning visits".

On the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio attended his funeral. He was considered one of the papabile cardinals. He participated as a cardinal elector in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. In the National Catholic Reporter John L. Allen, Jr. reported that Bergoglio was a frontrunner in the 2005 Conclave. In September 2005, the Italian magazine Limes published claims that Bergoglio had been the runner-up and main challenger to Cardinal Ratzinger at that conclave and that he had received 40 votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive ballot. The claims were based on a diary purportedly belonging to an anonymous cardinal who had been present at the conclave. According to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, this number of votes had no precedents for a Latin American papabile. La Stampa reported that Bergoglio was in close contention with Ratzinger during the election, until he made an emotional plea that the cardinals should not vote for him. According to Tornielli, Bergoglio requested made this request to prevent the conclave from delaying too much in the election of a pope.

As a cardinal, Bergoglio was associated with Communion and Liberation, a Catholic evangelical lay movement of the type known as associations of the faithful. He has sometimes made appearances at the annual gathering known as the Rimini Meeting held during the late summer months in Italy.

In 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio authorized the request for beatification—the first step towards sainthood—for six members of the Pallottine community murdered in 1976. At the same time, Bergoglio ordered an investigation into the murders themselves, which had been widely blamed on the military regime that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

Relations with other religious communities

Eastern Orthodox

Bergoglio is recognized for his efforts "to further close the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with the Orthodox churches". Antoni Sevruk, rector of the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr in Rome, said that Bergoglio "often visited Orthodox services in the Russian Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral in Buenos Aires" and is known as an advocate on behalf the Orthodox Church in dealing with Argentina's government.

Bergoglio's positive relationship with the Eastern Orthodox churches is reflected in the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople attended his installation. According to George Demacopoulos, this is "quite likely the first time in history" that the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, a position considered first among equals in the Eastern Orthodox Church organization, has attended a papal installation. Orthodox leaders state that Bartholomew's decision to attend the ceremony shows that the relationship between the Orthodox and Catholic churches is a priority of his, but they also note that Francis's "well-documented work for social justice and his insistence that globalization is detrimental to the poor" may have created a "renewed opportunity" for the two church communities to "work collectively on issues of mutual concern".

Oriental Orthodox

Following Bergoglio's election as pope there was an exchange of correspondence between him and one of the leaders of Oriental Orthodoxy, a church that split with Rome and Constantinople after the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

After the election, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Cairo, sent a telegram of congratulations to Francis, that read: "News of your election as head of the Catholic Church fills my heart with joy. I congratulate you and the cardinals wholeheartedly for this blessed choice. Your Holiness, I wish you good health and long life, that through your work the Catholic Church may grow and bear witness to Christ in the entire world."

Francis responded with a letter that included the sentence: "Trusting in the Holy Spirit's guidance of my ministry as successor of Peter and servant of the servants of God, and kindly requesting a remembrance in your prayers, I offer you a brotherly embrace in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour."


Gregory Venables, Anglican Bishop of Argentina, has called Bergoglio a "devout Christian and friend to Anglicans". Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) greeted the news of Bergoglio's election with a public statement that praised his work with Lutherans in Argentina.

Evangelical leaders including Argentine Luis Palau, who moved to the US in his twenties, have welcomed the news of Bergoglio's election as Pope based on his relations with Evangelical Protestants, noting that Bergoglio's financial manager for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires was an Evangelical Christian whom Bergoglio refers to as a friend. Palau recounts how Bergoglio would not only relax and "drink mate" with that friend, but would also read the Bible and pray with him, based on what Bergoglio called a relationship of friendship and trust. Palau describes Bergoglio's approach to relationships with Evangelicals as one of "building bridges and showing respect, knowing the differences, but majoring on what we can agree on: on the divinity of Jesus, his virgin birth, his resurrection, the second coming." As a result of Bergoglio's election, Palau predicts that "tensions will be eased."

Juan Pablo Bongarrá, president of the Argentine Bible Society, recounts that Bergoglio not only met with Evangelicals, and prayed with them—but he also asked them to pray for him. Bongarrá notes that Bergoglio would frequently end a conversation with the request, "Pastor, pray for me." Additionally, Bongarrá tells the story of a weekly worship meeting of charismatic pastors in Buenos Aires, which Bergoglio attended: "He mounted the platform and called for pastors to pray for him. He knelt in front of nearly 6,000 people, and [the Protestant leaders there] laid hands and prayed."

Other Evangelical leaders agree that Bergoglio's relationships in Argentina make him "situated to better understand Protestantism". Noting that the divide between Catholicism and Protestantism is often present among members of the same families in Argentina, and is therefore an extremely important human issue, "Francis could set the tone for more compassionate conversations among families about the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism."


Bergoglio has close ties to the Jewish community of Argentina, and attended Jewish Rosh Hashanah services in 2007 at a synagogue in Buenos Aires. Bergoglio told the Jewish congregation during his visit that he went to the synagogue to examine his heart, "like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers". After the 1994 AMIA bombing of a Jewish Community Centre there that killed 85 people, Bergoglio was the first public figure to sign a petition condemning the attack and calling for justice. Jewish community leaders around the world noted that his words and actions "showed solidarity with the Jewish community" in the aftermath of this attack.

A former head of the World Jewish Congress, Israel Singer, reported that he worked with Bergoglio in the early 2000s, distributing aid to the poor as part of a joint Jewish-Catholic program called "Tzedaka". Singer noted that he was impressed with Bergoglio's modesty, remembering that "if everyone sat in chairs with handles [arms], he would sit in the one without." Bergoglio also co-hosted a Kristallnacht memorial ceremony at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral in 2012, and joined a group of clerics from a number of different religions to light candles in a 2012 synagogue ceremony on the occasion of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

Abraham Skorka, the rector of the Latin-American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, and Bergoglio published their conversations on religious and philosophical subjects as Sobre el cielo y la tierra ( On Heaven and Earth). An editorial in Israel's The Jerusalem Post notes that "Unlike John Paul II, who as a child had positive memories of the Jews of his native Poland but due to the Holocaust had no Jewish community to interact with in Poland as an adult, Pope Francis has maintained a sustained and very positive relationship with a living, breathing [Jewish] community in Buenos Aires."

One of the pope's first official actions was writing a letter to Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, inviting him to the papal installation and sharing his hope of collaboration between the Catholic and Jewish communities. The pope's two immediate predecessors both visited the Great Synagogue of Rome, and news sources expect that Pope Francis will visit the synagogue, as well.


Leaders of the Islamic community in Buenos Aires welcomed the news of Bergoglio's election as pope, noting that he "always showed himself as a friend of the Islamic community", and a person whose position is "pro-dialogue".

Buenos Aires Islamic leaders praise Bergoglio's close ties with the Islamic community by citing his reactions to an incident when Pope Benedict XVI quoted a medieval document that described Muhammad as "evil and inhuman". According to them, Bergoglio immediately distanced himself from the quotes, noting that statements that create outrage within the Islamic community "will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last 20 years.”

Bergoglio visited both a mosque and an Islamic school in Argentina, visits that Sheik Mohsen Ali, the Director for the Diffusion of Islam, called actions that strengthened the relationship between the Catholic and Islamic communities. Dr. Sumer Noufouri, Secretary General of the Islamic Centre of the Argentine Republic (CIRA), added that Bergoglio's past actions make his election as pope a cause within the Islamic community of "joy and expectation of strengthening dialogue between religions". Noufouri said that the relationship between CIRA and Bergoglio over the course of a decade had helped to build up Christian-Muslim dialogue in a way that was "really significant in the history of monotheistic relations in Argentina".

Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar and president of Egypt's Al-Azhar University, sent congratulations after the pope's election. Al-Tayeb had "broken off relations with the Vatican" during Benedict XVI's time as pope, so his statement has been recognized as a "sign of openness" for the future. However, his message of congratulations also included the request that "Islam asks for respect from the new pontiff".

Shortly after his election, in a meeting with ambassadors from the 180 countries accredited with the Holy See, Pope Francis called for more interreligious dialogue -- "particularly with Islam". He also expressed gratitude that “so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world” had attended his installation Mass. An editorial in the Saudi Arabian paper Saudi Gazette strongly welcomed the pope's call for increased interfaith dialogue, stressing that while the pope was "reiterating a position he has always maintained", his public call as pope for increased dialogue with Islam "comes as a whiff of fresh air at a time when much of the Western world is experiencing a nasty outbreak of Islamophobia".

Interfaith dialogue

Bergoglio has also written about his commitment to open and respectful interfaith dialogue as a way for all parties engaged in that dialogue to learn from one another. In the 2011 book that records his conversations with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Sobre el cielo y la tierra, Bergoglio said:

Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person’s point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth.

Religious leaders in Buenos Aires have stated that it was Bergoglio who "opened up the Cathedral in Buenos Aires for interfaith ceremonies". For example, in November 2012 he brought "leaders of the Jewish, Muslim, evangelical, and Orthodox Christian faiths" together in the Cathedral to pray for peace in the Middle East. Leaders quoted in a 2013 Associated Press article said that Bergoglio has a "very deep capacity for dialogue with other religions", and considers "healing divisions between religions a major part of the Catholic Church's mission".

Shortly after his election, the pope called for more interreligious dialogue as a way of "building bridges" and establishing “true links of friendship between all people". He added that it was crucial “to intensify outreach to nonbelievers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail". He said that his title of "pontiff" means "builder of bridges", and that it was his wish that "the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced."


Coat of arms of Pope Francis as Cardinal (left) and as Pope (right). The gold star represents the Virgin Mary, the spikenard flower is associated with Saint Joseph and the IHS emblem is the symbol of the Jesuits.

Elected at the age of 76, Francis is reported to be in good health, and his doctors have stated that his missing lung tissue (which was removed in 1957) does not have a significant impact on his health. The only concern would be decreased respiratory reserve if he had a respiratory infection. In the past, one attack of sciatica in 2007 prevented him from attending a consistory and delayed his return to Argentina for several days.

As pope his manner is less formal than that of his 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." For example, on the night of his election he took the 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 Friday after his election, the Pope said of Saint Francis of Assisi: "The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man," and he added "How I would like a poor Church, and for the poor".

In March 2013 a new song was dedicated to Francis and released in Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese and Italian, titled Come Puoi ("How You Can"). Also in March, Pablo Buera, the mayor of the Argentine city La Plata announced that the city had renamed a section of a street leading up to a local cathedral Papa Francisco, in honour of Francis. According to the Time Magazine article that reported this decision, there are already efforts to name other streets after him, as well as a school where he studied as a child.

In addition to his native Spanish, Francis is conversant in Latin (the official language of the Holy See), Italian (the official language of Vatican City and the "everyday language" of the Holy See), German, French, Portuguese, English, Ukrainian, and Piedmontese. He is "most comfortable" in Spanish, but is also "completely fluent" in Italian.


Bergoglio was elected pope on 13 March 2013, the second day of the 2013 papal conclave, taking the papal name Francis. Francis was elected on the fifth ballot of the conclave. The Habemus Papam was delivered by Cardinal protodeacon Jean-Louis Tauran.

Francis appears to the public for the first time as pope, at the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, 13 March 2013.

Instead of accepting his cardinals' congratulations while seated on the Papal throne, Francis received them standing, reportedly an immediate sign of a changing approach to formalities at the Vatican. During his first appearance as pontiff on the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica, he wore a white cassock, not the red, ermine-trimmed mozzetta used by the previous Popes. He also wore the same iron pectoral cross that he had worn as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, rather than the gold one worn by his predecessors.

After being elected and choosing his name, his first act was bestowing the Urbi et Orbi blessing to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before blessing the pilgrims, he asked those in St. Peter's Square to pray for the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI and for himself.

Among the people at St. Peter's Square


At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honour 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 pontiff, 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."

Author and Vatican reporter John Allen remarked that the choice of the name Francis sent a clear message to the Church about the new Pope's intention to let "the church of the spirit, a humble and simple community of equals with a special love for the least of this world.... shine through". This is the first time that a pope has been named Francis and the first time since Pope Lando's 913–914 reign that a serving pope held a name not used by a predecessor.

Francis also mentioned at the audience that some cardinal-electors had jokingly suggested to him that he should choose either "Adrian", since Pope Adrian VI had been a reformer of the church, or "Clement" as "payback" to Pope Clement XIV who had suppressed the Jesuit order.


Inauguration of Pope Francis, 19 March 2013

Pope Francis held his Papal inauguration on 19 March 2013 in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican. He celebrated Mass in the presence of various political and religious leaders from around the world. In his homily Pope Francis focused on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the liturgical day on which the Mass was celebrated.


Francis elected not to live in the official papal residence in the Apostolic Palace, but to remain in the Vatican guest house. He was upgraded to a suite in which he can receive visitors and interact with priests and bishops who work in the Vatican. He is the first pope since Pope Pius X to live outside the papal apartments. Vatican chief spokesman Federico Lombardi noted that the pope will "continue to use the papal apartment in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to appear at the window for the Sunday Angelus prayer".


On 16 March 2013, Pope Francis asked all those in senior positions of the Roman Curia to "provisionally continue" in office "until other provisions are made". He named Alfred Xuereb as his personal secretary.

Early issues

In March 2013, 21 Catholic parliamentarians from the United Kingdom wrote a letter to Francis, asking him to allow married men in Great Britain to be ordained as priests, keeping celibacy as the rule for bishops, as a sign of the "high regard we have for those who are able to live a genuinely celibate life.” The letter cited the fact that married Anglican priests have been ordained by the Catholic Church and allowed to serve as Catholic priests, noting that "These men and their families have proved to be a great blessing to our parishes." "Based on that very positive experience," the letter continued, "we would request that, in the same spirit, you permit the ordination of married Catholic men to the priesthood in Great Britain."

Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem included a call in his 2013 Easter homily for the pope to visit Jerusalem, "the birthplace of everything Christian". Other invitations extended to the pope include one from Louis Raphael I, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, who asked the pope to visit Iraq, where Raphael said that a visit to the "embattled Christian community" there would "inspire us with courage and hope". According to Raphael, the pope has "responded positively," and that he "looks forward to visiting our country". In addition to invitations from religious leaders, Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner issued a formal invitation to the pope to visit her nation (and his home country). Kirchner extended the invitation when she visited the Vatican before the pope's inauguration, asking for his help in terms of "smoothing tensions with Britain over the Falkland Islands".

News sources are quoting "senior Vatican officials" as saying that one test that Francis will face is what he will do to reform the Vatican bank, known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR). According to them, the bank has "regularly damaged the Vatican's image" and there are "growing calls for reform". Because Francis has said that he wants the Catholic Church "to be a model of austerity and honesty", some church officials are predicting that the pope will either restructure the bank or—a less likely alternative, but within the realm of possibilities—close it altogether. Two senior Vatican officials who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity said that it is possible that, as a first step, the pope might establish an advisory committee on "possible changes to the Vatican's financial structure".

Early words and actions

On the first Maundy Thursday following his election, Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 juvenile offenders, ages 14–21, at Rome's Casal del Marmo detention facility, telling them the ritual of foot washing is a sign that he is at their service. He told them to "Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us". According to church experts, this was the first time that a pope has included women in this ritual (there were 2 women and 10 men). Canon lawyer Edward Peters noted that this was a break with canon law, although not with any "divine directive". The twelve included two Muslims, including one of the two women. Before leaving, the pope told the detainees, "Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope".

Raymond Arroyo, EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network news director, stated that it is clear that Francis "is intent on bringing the message of the church out to the world," and wants priests to work "amid the people in the muck of life". Arroyo said that when Francis told priests on Maundy Thursday "to go look for the lost sheep", the message was that priests should be like shepherds who are so close to their flock that they "smell like their sheep".

On March 31, 2013, Francis used his first Easter homily to make a plea for peace throughout the world, specifically mentioning the Mid-East, Africa, and North and South Korea. He also spoke out against those who give in to "easy gain" in a world filled with greed, and made a plea for humanity to become a better guardian of creation by protecting the environment. He said that "We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace." Although the Vatican had prepared greetings in 65 languages, Francis chose not to read them. According to the Vatican, the pope "at least for now, feels at ease using Italian, the everyday language of the Holy See".

On April 3, 2013, during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Basilica, Francis spoke out about the "fundmental importance" of women in the Roman Catholic Church, stressing that they have a special role in terms of spreading the faith, and that they were the "first witnesses" of the resurrection. According to a report from Vatican Radio, this is the third time in one week that the pope has included the subject of women in the church in his addresses. According to other news reports, many Catholic women, including a group of American Catholic women and nuns who made a pilgrimage to Rome to make requests that included allowing women to be deacons, are hopeful that under the leadership of Pope Francis, the church will provide women with new opportunities for leadership roles.


Encountering Jesus and rejecting worldliness

In both his first homily as Pope and in his first address to the cardinals, Francis talked about walking in the presence of Jesus Christ and stressed the church mission to announce him. In the audience with the cardinals, he emphasized the concept of "encounter with Jesus":

Stimulated by the Year of Faith, all together, pastors and faithful, we will make an effort to respond faithfully to the eternal mission: to bring Jesus Christ to humanity, and to lead humanity to an encounter with Jesus Christ: the Way, the Truth and the Life, truly present in the Church and, at the same time, in every person. This encounter makes us become new men in the mystery of Grace, provoking in our hearts the Christian joy that is a hundredfold that given us by Christ to those who welcome Him into their lives.

In his homily, he stressed that "if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord." He went on to teach that "When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil... when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly".

The theme of rejecting "spiritual worldliness", has been described as a " leitmotif" of his teachings even before he became Pope. Understanding this worldliness as "putting oneself at the centre", he said that it is the "greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church".

Morality as response to God's mercy

Francis preached on his first visit to a parish that "this is the the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy." His motto, Miserando atque eligendo, is about Jesus' mercy towards sinners. The phrase is taken from a homily of St. Bede, who commented that Jesus "saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: 'Follow me'" (italics added to refer to English translation of the Latin motto).

The motto is a reference to the moment he changed his life when he was 17 years old and found his vocation to the priesthood. He started a day of student celebrations by going to confession. "A strange thing happened to me...It was a surprise, the astonishment of an encounter...This is the religious experience: the astonishment of encountering someone who was waiting for you... God is the one who seeks us first."

As cardinal he viewed morality in the context of an encounter with Christ that is "triggered" by mercy": "the privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin." And thus, he says, a new morality—a correspondence to mercy—is born. He views this morality as a "revolution": it is "not a titanic effort of the will", but "simply a response" to a "surprising, unforeseeable, and 'unjust' mercy". Morality is "not a 'never falling down' but an 'always getting up again.'"

The Gospel reading for the Sunday he was scheduled to give his first public address as Pope was on Jesus' forgiveness of the adulteress woman. This allowed him to discuss ideas such as: God never wearies of forgiving us; hearing the word mercy, this word changes everything; mercy is beautiful; never tire in asking for forgiveness.

Creative transformation in evangelization

Another theme Pope Francis emphasized in his first address to the cardinals is the new evangelization. He talked about "the certainty that the Holy Spirit gives His Church, with His powerful breath, the courage to persevere and to search for new ways to evangelise."

It is a theme he has repeated in other occasions, specifically in his biography, where he spoke about "transforming pastoral modes" and "revising the internal life of the church so as to go out to the faithful people of God," with "great creativity." He observed that church cannot be passively waiting for clientele among people who are no longer evangelized and who "will not get near structures and old forms that do not respond to their expectations and sensibilities." He asked for pastoral conversion from a church that regulates the faith to a church that transmits and facilitates the faith.

He said that the heart of the mission is summarized in this: "if one remains in the Lord one goes out of oneself... Fidelity is always a change, a blossoming, a growth." Key to evangelization is the role of the laity who should avoid the "problem" of being clericalized as their "baptism alone should suffice".

Poverty and economic inequality

At a meeting of Latin American bishops in 2007 Bergoglio said "[w]e live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most, yet reduced misery the least" and that "[t]he unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers". On 30 September 2009, Bergoglio spoke at a conference organized by the Argentina City Postgraduate School (EPOCA) at the Alvear Palace Hotel titled "Las deudas sociales de nuestro tiempo" ("The Social Debts of Our Time") in which he quoted the 1992 "Documento de Santo Domingo" by the Latin American Episcopal Conference, saying " extreme poverty and unjust economic structures that cause great inequalities" are violations of human rights. He went on to describe social debt as "immoral, unjust and illegitimate".

During a 48-hour public servant strike in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio observed the differences between "poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice". In 2002, during an economic crisis, Bergoglio harshly criticized those in power, saying, "Let's not tolerate the sad spectacle of those who no longer know how to lie and contradict themselves to hold onto their privileges, their rapaciousness, and their ill-earned wealth." During a May 2010 speech in Argentina regarding the poor, he directed his message to the wealthy by saying: "You avoid taking into account the poor. We have no right to duck down, to lower the arms carried by those in despair. We must reclaim the memory of our country who has a mother, recover the memory of our Mother". In 2011, Bergoglio stated: "There is a daily anesthesia that this city knows how to use very well, and it is called bribery, and with this anesthesia the conscience is numbed. Buenos Aires is a bribe-taking city."

In 2011, Bergoglio decried sweatshops and homelessness in Buenos Aires as forms of slavery:

In this city, slavery is the order of the day in various forms, in this city workers are exploited in sweatshops and, if immigrants, are deprived of the opportunity to get out. In this city, there are kids on the streets for years....... The city failed and continues to fail in the attempt to free them from this structural slavery that is homelessness.

In line with the Catholic Church's efforts to care for AIDS victims, in 2001 he visited a hospice and he washed and kissed the feet of 12 AIDS patients.

Celibacy of priests

As Cardinal, Bergoglio's views regarding the celibacy of priests were recorded in the book On Heaven and Earth, a record of conversations conducted with a Buenos Aires rabbi. He commented that celibacy "is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change" but added: "For the moment, I am in favour of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons, because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures [...] Tradition has weight and validity." He noted that "in the Byzantine, Ukranian, 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 adhered to, and any priest who cannot obey it "has to leave the ministry".

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".

Aparecida Document

In 2007, as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio presented the final version of a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America – the "Aparecida Document" – upon its approval by Pope Benedict XVI. Bergoglio denounced what he characterized as a cultural tolerance of child abuse. He spoke strongly against the abuse of children as "demographic terrorism" and decried their exploitation saying, "Children are mistreated, and are not educated or fed. Many are made into prostitutes and exploited." In 2011, Bergoglio condemned child trafficking and sex slavery in Buenos Aires:

In this city, there are many girls who stop playing with dolls to enter the dump of a brothel because they were stolen, sold, betrayed ... In this city, women and girls are kidnapped, and they are subjected to use and abuse of their body; they are destroyed in their dignity. The flesh that Jesus assumed and died for is worth less than the flesh of a pet. A dog is cared for better than these slaves of ours, who are kicked, who are broken.

Bergoglio also encouraged his clergy and laity "to ardently defend the culture of life", by opposing both abortion and euthanasia, and opposed the free distribution of contraceptives in Argentina, as proposed by the Kirchner government. The Aparecida Document links worthiness to receive the Eucharist to compliance and acceptance of Church teaching against abortion and euthanasia:

We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility ... We should commit ourselves to "eucharistic coherence", that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.

He further denounced a "culture of discarding" the elderly and treating them as if they are disposable and worthless by virtue of their advanced age.

Same-sex marriage

Bergoglio affirms the Church's teaching that homosexual practice is intrinsically immoral but homosexuals should be treated with respect and love because temptation is not in and of itself sinful. Bergoglio opposes same-sex marriage. When Argentina was considering legalizing it in 2010, Begoglio opposed the legislation, calling 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 and one was defrocked. Observers believe that the church's opposition and Bergoglio's language worked in favour of the law's passage and that in response Catholic officials adopted a more conciliatory tone in later debates on social issues such as parental surrogacy.

Rubin, Bergoglio's biographer claimed that while taking a strong stand against same-sex marriage, Bergoglio raised the possibility in 2010 with his bishops in Argentina that they support the idea of civil unions as a compromise position. According to a March 2013 article in the New York Times, "a majority of the bishops voted to overrule him". However Miguel Woites, the director of the Catholic News Agency of Argentina, who works directly for the Argentine Episcopal Conference and as such worked closely with Bergoglio when he was head of the conference, denied that Bergoglio ever made such a proposal.

According to gay rights activists in Buenos Aires, including Marcelo Marquez and Andres Albertsen, Bergoglio also spoke "behind closed doors" with them about his support for the spiritual needs of "homosexual people," and his willingness to support progress in the form of "measured actions". According to news reports "a senior Vatican official" could "neither confirm nor deny" reports of Bergoglio's behind the scenes views as cardinal, but that whatever views he might have expressed at that time, "he should be given time to develop his policy position as pontiff".

Titles and styles

Papal styles of
Pope Francis
Coat of arms of Franciscus.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father

The official style of the Pope in English is His Holiness Pope Francis; in Latin, Franciscus, Episcopus Romae. Holy Father is another honorific often used for popes.

His full title, rarely used, is:

His Holiness Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.

It is customary when referring to popes to translate the regnal name into local languages. Thus he is Papa Franciscus in Latin (the official language of the Holy See), Papa Francesco in Italian (the language of the Vatican), Papa Francisco in his native Spanish, and Pope Francis in English.



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  • Bergoglio, Jorge (1992). Reflexiones en esperanza [Reflections of Hope] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Ediciones Universidad del Salvador. OCLC  36380521. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2003). Educar: exigencia y pasión: desafíos para educadores cristianos [To Educate: Exactingness and Passion: Challenges for Christian Educators] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN  9789505124572. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2003). Ponerse la patria al hombro: memoria y camino de esperanza [Putting the Motherland on One's Shoulders: Memoir and Path of Hope] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN  9789505125111. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2005). La nación por construir: utopía, pensamiento y compromiso: VIII Jornada de Pastoral Social [The Nation to Be Built: Utopia, Thought, and Commitment] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN  9789505125463. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2006). Corrupción y pecado: algunas reflexiones en torno al tema de la corrupción [Corruption and Sin: Some Thoughts on Corruption] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN  9789505125722. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2006). Sobre la acusación de sí mismo [On Self-Accusation, (or from the Italian, Humility: The Road towards God)] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN  978-950-512-549-4. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2007). El verdadero poder es el servicio [True Power Is Service] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. OCLC  688511686. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2009). Seminario: las deudas sociales de nuestro tiempo: la deuda social según la doctrina de la iglesia [Seminar: the Social Debts of Our Time: Social Debt According to Church Doctrine] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: EPOCA-USAL. ISBN  9788493741235. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge; Skorka, Abraham (2010). Sobre el cielo y la tierra [On Heaven and Earth] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana. ISBN  9789500732932. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2010). Seminario Internacional: consenso para el desarrollo: reflexiones sobre solidaridad y desarrollo [International seminar: Consensus about Development: Reflexions on Solidarity and development] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: EPOCA. ISBN  9789875073524. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2011). Nosotros como ciudadanos, nosotros como pueblo: hacia un bicentenario en justicia y solidaridad [Ourselves as Citizens, Ourselves as a People: towards a Bicentenary in Justice and Solidarity] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN  9789505127443. 


  • Bergoglio, Jorge (1995). La vida sagrada y su misión en la Iglesia y en el mundo (in Spanish). Argentina Catholic University: Faculty of Theology. OCLC  806712655. 
  • Egan, Edward Michael; Bergoglio, Jorge (2001). "Episcopus minister Evangelii Iesu Christi propter spem mundi: relatio post disceptationem". The Catholic Church. The Synod of Bishops. Ordinary General Assembly. E Civitate Vaticana. OCLC  749998123.
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2003). "For Man". In Buzzi, Elisa. A Generative Thought: An Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 79–83. ISBN  0773526129. 
  • John Paul, Pope; Castro, Fidel (2004). In Bergoglio, Jorge. Diálogos entre Juan Pablo II y Fidel Castro [Dialogues Between John Paul II and Fidel Castro] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Ciudad Argentina. ISBN  9789875070745. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2007). "Buscar el camino hacia el futuro, llevando consigo la memoria de las raíces". Humanitas (in Spanish) ( National Humanities Institute) (47): 468–483. OCLC  176911626. 
  • Castiñeira de Dios, José María (2007). El santito Ceferino Namuncurá: relato en verso (in Spanish). Foreword by Jorge Bergoglio. Buenos Aires: Lumen. ISBN  9789870007340. 
  • Official Vatican transcript in English of IEC Catechesis The Eucharist: Gift from God for the life of the world (2008) (originally given in Spanish), 49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec, Canada
  • Agencia Informativa Católica Argentina (1999-2012). Documentos de los obispos: Homilías y documentos del cardenal Bergoglio (in Spanish)
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