He is the first pope in history to come from the
Hemisphere and the first non-European to be elected in almost
1,300 years. The Jesuit was also the first member of his order to be elected
pope, and the first member of any religious order to be elected in nearly two
Jorge Bergoglio was born in
capital city, Buenos Aires,
Argentina Dec. 17, 1936.
He studied and received a master's degree in chemistry at the
but later decided to become a Jesuit priest and studied at the Jesuit seminary
of Villa Devoto. The last pope to have belonged to a religious order was Pope
Gregory XVI, a Benedictine elected in 1831. University of Buenos Aires
He studied liberal arts in
, and in
1960 earned a degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of Buenos
Aires. Between 1964 and 1965 he was a teacher of literature and psychology at
Inmaculada high school in the Santiago,
of Santa Fe, and in 1966 he taught the
same courses at the prestigious Colegio del Salvador in . Buenos Aires
In 1967, he returned to his theological studies and was ordained a priest
Dec. 13, 1969. After his
perpetual profession as a Jesuit in 1973, he became master of novices at the
Seminary of Villa Barilari in San Miguel. Later that same year, he was elected
superior of the Jesuit . province
In 1980, he returned to San Miguel as a teacher at the Jesuit school, a job rarely taken by a former provincial superior. In May 1992 he was appointed auxiliary bishop of
He was one of three auxiliaries and he kept a low profile, spending most of his
time caring for the Catholic university, counseling priests and preaching and
hearing confessions. Buenos Aires
June 3, 1997,
he was named coadjutor archbishop. He was installed as the new archbishop of Buenos Aires Feb. 28, 1998.
Since 1998, he has been archbishop of
where his style is low-key and close to the people. Buenos Aires
He rides the bus, visits the poor, lives in a simple apartment and cooks his own meals. To many in
he is known simply as "Father Jorge." Buenos Aires
He also has created new parishes, restructured the administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives and started new pastoral programs, such as a commission for divorcees. He co-presided over the 2001 Synod of Bishops and was elected to the synod council, so he is well-known to the world's bishops.
The pope has also written books on spirituality and meditation and has been outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages.
Some controversy had arisen over the position taken by Pope Francis during
1976-1983 military dictatorship, which cracked down brutally on political
opponents. Estimates of the number of people killed and forcibly disappeared
during those years range from about 13,000 to more than 30,000. Argentina
Citing a case in which two young priests were detained by the military regime, critics say that the cardinal, who was Jesuit provincial at the time, did not do enough to support church workers against the military dictatorship.
Others, however, have said that he attempted to negotiate behind the scenes for the priests' release, and a spokesman for the cardinal, quoted in the daily newspaper La Nacion, called the accusation "old slander."
After becoming archbishop of
in 1998, he created new parishes, restructured the administrative offices,
taken personal care of the seminary and started new pastoral projects, such as
the commission for divorcees. He mediated in almost all social or political
conflicts in the city; recently ordained priests have been described as
"the Bergoglio generation"; and no political or social figure missed
requesting a private encounter with him. Buenos Aires
While not overtly political, Pope Francis has not tried to hide the political and social impact of the Gospel message, particularly in a country still recovering from a serious economic crisis.
In 2006, he criticized an Argentine proposal to legalize abortion under certain circumstances as part of a wide-ranging legal reform. He accused the government of lacking respect for the values held by the majority of Argentines and of trying to convince the Catholic Church "to waver in our defense of the dignity of the person."
His role often forced him to speak publicly about the economic, social and political problems facing his country. His homilies and speeches are filled with references to the fact that all people are brothers and sisters and that the church and the country need to do what they can to make sure that everyone feels welcome, respected and cared for.
In 2010, when
became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Pope
Francis encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest
against the legislation because, if enacted, it could "seriously injure
the family." Argentina
He also said adoption by same-sex couples would result in "depriving (children) of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother."
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told reporters it was "beautiful that a Latin American was chosen."
"I don't know him well, even though we are part of same religious family," he said "I greeted him the other day, but didn't expect to see him again dressed in white."
A respected Italian journal said Pope Francis I had the second-highest number of votes on each of the four ballots in the 2005 conclave.
Pope Francis has had a growing reputation as a very spiritual man with a talent for pastoral leadership serving in a region with the largest number of the world's Catholics.
Contributing to this story were Carol Zimmermann and Carol Glatz in