His Holiness Pope Francis I Patriarch of the West meets with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI after he retired as Patriarch of the West of the Roman Catholic Church.
Francis (Latin: Franciscus [franˈtʃiskus], Italian: Francesco [franˈtʃesko], Spanish: Francisco [fɾanˈsisko]; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio[b] 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.
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 1988, 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 new born 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 re-elected 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 travelled 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
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".
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.
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 Francesco, 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, and Ukrainian. He is "most comfortable" in Spanish, but is also "completely fluent" in Italian.
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