Biography

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Introduction

Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio,[b] 17 December 1936) is the 266th and currentPope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technician and nightclub bouncer[2] before beginningseminary studies. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969 and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s provincial superior of theSociety of Jesus. He was accused of handing two priests to the National Reorganization Process during the Dirty War, but the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina, and the administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European pope since the Syrian Gregory III in 741.

Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, his concern for the poor, and his commitment to interfaith dialogue. He is known for having a humble approach to the papacy, less formal than his predecessors, for instance choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors. In addition, due to both his Jesuit and Ignatian aesthetic, he is known for favoring simpler vestments void of ornamentation, including refusing the traditional papal mozzetta cape upon his election, choosing silver instead of gold for hispiscatory ring, and keeping the same pectoral cross he had when he was cardinal. He maintains that the Church should be more open and welcoming. Although he considers poverty a huge problem, he does not support unbridled capitalism, Marxism, or Marxist versions of liberation theology. Francis made the battle against global warming, consumerism, and irresponsible development a focus of his papacy with the publication of Laudato si’. The media considers him a progressive papal reformer, with a less-doctrinal tone of papacy. Despite this, Francis maintains the traditional views of the church regarding homosexuality, abortion, ordination of women, and priestly celibacy. In international diplomacy, he helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Personal life

 

Jorge Mario Bergoglio (fourth boy from the left on the third row from the top) at age 12, while studying at the Salesian College.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936 in Flores,[3] a barrio of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest[4] of five children of Mario José Bergoglio, an Italian immigrant accountant[5] born in Portacomaro (Province of Asti) in Italy’s Piedmont region, and his wife Regina María Sívori,[6] a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin.[7][8][9][10][11] Mario José’s family left Italy in 1929, to escape the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.[12] María Elena Bergoglio, the Pope’s only living sibling, confirmed that their emigration was not caused by economic reasons.[13] His other siblings were Alberto Horacio, Oscar Adrián and Marta Regina.[14]Two great-nephews, Antonio and Joseph, died in a traffic collision.[15][16]

In the sixth grade, Bergoglio attended Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles, a school of the Salesians of Don Bosco, in Ramos Mejía, Buenos Aires. He attended the technical secondary school Escuela Técnica Industrial N° 27 Hipólito Yrigoyen,[17] named after a past President of Argentina, and graduated with a chemical technician’s diploma.[18][19] He worked for a few years in that capacity in the foods section at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory[20] where his boss was Esther Ballestrino. Before joining the Jesuits, Bergoglio worked as a bar bouncer and as a janitor sweeping floors, and he also ran tests in a chemical laboratory.[21][22]

In the only known health crisis of his youth, at the age of 21 he suffered from life-threatening pneumonia and three cysts. He had part of a lung excised shortly afterwards.[17][23] Bergoglio has been a lifelong supporter of the San Lorenzo de Almagro football club.[24] Bergoglio is also a fan of the films of Tita Merello,[25] neorealism, and tango dancing, with an “intense fondness” for the traditional music of Argentina and Uruguay known as the milonga.[25]

Pre-papal career

Jesuit

Bergoglio studied at the archdiocesan seminary, Inmaculada Concepción Seminary, in Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires, and, after three years, entered the Society of Jesus as a novice on 11 March 1958.[25] Bergoglio has said that, as a young seminarian, he had a crush on a girl he met and briefly doubted about continuing the religious career.[28] As a Jesuit novice he studied humanities inSantiago, Chile.[29] At the conclusion of his novitiate in the Society of Jesus, Bergoglio officially became a Jesuit on 12 March 1960, when he made the religious profession of the initial, perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience of a member of the order.[30][31]

In 1960, Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo de San José in San Miguel, Buenos Aires Province. He taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción, a high school in Santa Fe, from 1964 to 1965. In 1966 he taught the same courses at the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires.[32] 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.[33]

Bergoglio completed his final stage of spiritual training as a Jesuit, tertianship, at Alcalá de Henares, Spain. He took the final fourth vow (obedience to the pope) in the Society of Jesus on 22 April 1973, which added to the previous three.[31] He was namedprovincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina on 31 July 1973 and served until 1979.[34] He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1973, shortly after being named provincial superior, but his stay was shortened by the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War.[35] After the completion of his term of office, in 1980 he was named the rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel in San Miguel.[36] Before taking up this new appointment, he spent the first three months of 1980 in Ireland to learn English, staying at the Jesuit Centre at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin.[37] After returning to Argentina to take up his new post at San Miguel, Father Bergoglio served in that capacity until 1986. He was removed as rector by the Jesuit superior-general, Hans Kolvenbach, because Bergoglio’s policy of educating the young Jesuits in direct pastoral work and in popular religiosity was opposed to the world-wide trend in the Society of Jesus of emphasizing social justice based on sociological analysis, especially promoted by the Centro de Investigaciones y Accion Social (CIAS).[38]

He spent several months at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany, while considering possible dissertation topics,[39] before returning to Argentina to serve as a confessor and spiritual director to the Jesuit community in Córdoba.[40] 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.[41][c] As a student at the Salesian school, Bergoglio was mentored byUkrainian Greek Catholic priest Stefan Czmil. Bergoglio often rose hours before his classmates to serve Mass for Czmil.[44][45]

Because of continued tensions with leaders and scholars connected with the Centro de Investigaciones y Accion Social (CIAS), a sense of Bergoglio’s “dissent”, and his work as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, he was asked in 1992 by Jesuit authorities not to reside in Jesuit houses.[46][47][48] From then on, he did not visit Jesuit houses until after his election as Pope.[38]

Bishop

Bergoglio was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and ordained on 27 June 1992 as Titular Bishop of Auca,[49] with Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, serving as principal consecrator.[26] He chose as his episcopal mottoMiserando atque eligendo.[50] It is drawn from Saint Bede‘s homily on Matthew 9:9–13: “because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him”.[51]

On 3 June 1997, Bergoglio was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires with right of automatic succession.[27] Upon Quarracino’s death on 28 February 1998, Bergoglio became Metropolitan Archbishop of Buenos Aires. In that role, Bergoglio created new parishes and restructured the archdiocese administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives, and created a commission on divorces.[52] One of Bergoglio’s major initiatives as archbishop was to 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.[53] This work led to him being called the “Slum Bishop”.[54]

Early in his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio sold off the archdiocese’s shares in multiple banks and turned its accounts into those of a normal customer in international banks. The shares in banks had led the local church to a high leniency towards high spending, and the archdiocese was nearing bankruptcy as a result. As a normal customer of the bank, the church was forced into a higher fiscal discipline.[55]

On 6 November 1998, while remaining Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was named ordinary for those Eastern Catholics in Argentina who lacked a prelate of their own rite.[26] 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.[45]

In 2000, Bergoglio was the only church official to reconcile with Jerónimo Podestá, a former bishop who had been suspended as a priest after opposing the Argentine Revolution military dictatorship in 1972. He defended Podestá’s wife from Vatican attacks on their marriage.[56][57][58] That same year, Bergoglio said the Argentine Catholic Church needed “to put on garments of public penance for the sins committed during the years of the dictatorship” in the 1970s, during theDirty War.[59]

Bergoglio made it his custom to celebrate the Holy Thursday ritual washing of feet in places such as jails, hospitals, retirement homes or slums.[60] 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.[61][62] It was celebrated weekly.[63]

On 8 November 2005, Bergoglio was elected president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–08).[64] He was reelected to another three-year term on 11 November 2008.[65] 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.[26] While head of the Argentine Catholic bishops’ conference, Bergoglio issued a collective apology for his church’s failure to protect people from the Junta during the Dirty War.[66] 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.[35] Still, as he had no coadjutor archbishop, he stayed in office, waiting for an eventual replacement appointed by the Vatican.[67]

Cardinal

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.[13] 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 theCommission for Latin America. 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,[68] and, according to the Catholic Herald, created “a favourable impression as a man open to communion and dialogue”.[69][70]

 

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2008

Cardinal Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism, and a commitment to social justice.[71] A simple lifestylecontributed 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.[72] He limited his time in Rome to “lightning visits”.[73] He was known to be devoted to St. Therese of Lisieux, and he enclosed a small picture of her in the letters he wrote, calling her “a great missionary saint”.[74]

After Pope John Paul II died on 2 April 2005, Bergoglio attended his funeral and was considered one of the papabile for succession to the papacy.[75] 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.[71][76] 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.[77][78] The claims were based on a diary purportedly belonging to an anonymous cardinal who had been present at the conclave.[77][79] According to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, this number of votes had no precedents for a Latin American papabile.[79] 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.[80] According to Tornielli, Bergoglio made this request to prevent the conclave from delaying too much in the election of a pope.[81]

As a cardinal, Bergoglio was associated with Communion and Liberation, a Catholic evangelical lay movement of the type known as associations of the faithful.[71][82] He sometimes made appearances at the annual gathering known as the Rimini Meeting held during the late summer months in Italy.[71] In 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio authorized the request for beatification — the first step towards sainthood — for six members of the Pallottine community murdered in the San Patricio Church massacre.[83][84] At the same time, Bergoglio ordered an investigation into the murders themselves, which had been widely blamed on the National Reorganization Process, the military regime that ruled Argentina at the time.[84]

Relations with Argentine governments

Dirty War

Bergoglio was the subject of allegations regarding the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests during Argentina’s Dirty War.[85] He feared for the priests’ safety and had tried to change their work prior to their arrest; however, contrary to reports, he never tried to throw them out of the Jesuit order.[86] In 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio, as superior in the Society of Jesus of Argentina, accusing him of involvement in the Navy’s kidnapping of the two priests in May 1976.[87] The lawyer’s complaint did not specify the nature of Bergoglio’s alleged involvement, and Bergoglio’s spokesman flatly denied the allegations. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.[85] The priests, Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalics, had been tortured,[88] but found alive five months later, drugged and semi-naked. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Yorio (who died in 2000) said in a 1999 interview that he believed that Bergoglio did nothing “to free us, in fact just the opposite”.[89] Jalics initially refused to discuss the complaint after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.[90] However, two days after the election of Pope Francis, Jalics issued a statement confirming the kidnapping and attributing the cause to a former lay colleague who became a guerrilla, was captured, and named Yorio and Jalics when interrogated.[91] The following week, Jalics issued a second, clarifying statement: “It is wrong to assert that our capture took place at the initiative of Father Bergoglio … the fact is, Orlando Yorio and I were not denounced by Father Bergoglio.”[92][93]

Bergoglio told his authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, that after the priests’ imprisonment, he worked behind the scenes for their release; Bergoglio’s intercession with dictatorJorge Rafael Videla on their behalf may have saved their lives.[94] Bergoglio also told Rubin that he had often sheltered people from the dictatorship on church property, and once gave his own identity papers to a man who looked like him, so he could flee Argentina.[88] The interview with Rubin, reflected in the biography El jesuita, is the only time Bergoglio has spoken to the press about those events.[95] Alicia Oliveira, a former Argentine judge, has also reported that Bergoglio helped people flee Argentina during the military regime.[96] Since Francis became Pope, Gonzalo Mosca[97] and José Caravias[98] have related to journalists accounts of how Bergoglio helped them flee the Argentine dictatorship.

Oliveira described the future Pope as “anguished” and “very critical of the dictatorship” during the Dirty War.[99] Oliveira met with him at the time and urged Bergoglio to speak out—he told her that “he couldn’t. That it wasn’t an easy thing to do.”[89] Artist and human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said: “Perhaps he didn’t have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship … Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship.”[100][101] Graciela Fernández Meijide, member of the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, also said that there was no proof linking Bergoglio with the dictatorship. She told to the Clarín newspaper: “There is no information and Justice couldn’t prove it. I was in the APDH during all the dictatorship years and I received hundreds of testimonies. Bergoglio was never mentioned. It was the same in the CONADEP. Nobody mentioned him as instigator or as anything.”[102] Ricardo Lorenzetti, President of the Argentine Supreme Court, also has said that Bergoglio is “completely innocent” of the accusations.[103] Historian Uki Goñi pointed that, during the early 1976, the military regime still had a good image among society, and that the scale of the political repression was not known until much later; Bergoglio would have had little reason to suspect that the detention of Yorio and Jalics could end up in their deaths.[104]

When Bergoglio became Pope, an alleged photo of him giving the sacramental bread to dictator Jorge Rafael Videla became viral in social networks. It has also been used by the newspaper Página/12.[105] The photo was soon proved to be false. It was revealed that the priest, whose face is not visible in the photo, was Carlos Berón de Astrada. The photo was taken at the church “Pequeña Obra de la Divina Providencia Don Orione” in 1990, not during the Dirty War, and after Videla’s presidential pardon. The photo was produced by the agency AFP and it was initially published by the Crónica newspaper.[106]

Fernando de la Rúa

Fernando de la Rúa replaced Carlos Menem as president of Argentina in 1999. As an archbishop, Bergoglio celebrated the annual Mass at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral on the First National Government holiday, 25 May. In 2000, Bergoglio criticized the perceived apathy of society.[107] Argentina faced an economic depression at the time, and the Church criticized the fiscal austerity of the government, which increased poverty. De la Rúa asked the Church to promote a dialogue between the leaders of economic and political sectors to find a solution for the crisis. He claims that he talked with Bergoglio and proposed to take part in the meeting, but Bergoglio would have told him that the meeting was cancelled because of a misunderstanding by De la Rúa’s assistant, who may have declined the president’s assistance. Bishop Jorge Casaretto considers it unlikely, as De la Rúa only made the request in newspaper interviews, but never made a formal request to the Church.[108]

The Justicialist Party won the 2001 elections and got the majority in the Congress, and appointed Ramón Puerta as president of the Senate. As vice president Carlos Álvarezresigned shortly before, this left an opposing party second in the order of precedence. Bergoglio asked for an interview with Puerta, and had a positive impression of him. Puerta told him that the Justicialist party was not plotting to oust De la Rúa, and promised to help the president promote the laws that may be required.[109]

During police repression of the riots of December 2001, he contacted the Ministry of the Interior and asked that the police distinguish rioters engaged in acts of vandalism from peaceful protesters.[110]

Kirchners

 

Pope Francis with Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

When Bergoglio celebrated Mass at the Cathedral for the 2004 First National Government holiday, President Néstor Kirchner attended and heard Bergoglio request more political dialogue, reject intolerance, and criticize exhibitionism and strident announcements.[111]Kirchner celebrated the national day elsewhere the following year and the Mass in the Cathedral was suspended.[112] In 2006, Bergoglio helped the fellow jesuit Joaquín Piña to win the elections in the Misiones Province and prevent an amendment of the local constitution that would allow indefinite re-elections. Kirchner intended to use that project to start similar amendments at other provinces, and eventually to the national constitution.[113] Kirchner considered Bergoglio as a political rival to the day he died in October 2010.[114] Bergoglio’s relations with Kirchner’s widow and successor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, have been similarly tense. In 2008, Bergoglio called for national reconciliation during disturbances in the country’s agricultural regions, which the government interpreted as a support for anti-government demonstrators.[114] The campaign to enact same-sex marriage legislation was a particularly tense period in their relations.[114]

When Bergoglio was elected Pope, the initial reactions were mixed. Most of the Argentine society cheered it, but the pro-government newspaper Página/12 published renewed allegations about the Dirty War, and the president of the National Library described a global conspiracy theory. The president took more than an hour to congratulate him, and only did so in a passing-by reference inside a routine speech. However, as the Pope was a huge positive image in his country, Cristina Kirchner made a Copernican shift in her relation with him and fully embraced the Francis phenomenon.[115] On the day before his inauguration as pope, Bergoglio, now Francis, had a private meeting with Kirchner. They exchanged gifts and lunched together. This was the new pope’s first meeting with a head of state, and there was speculation that the two were mending their relations.[116][117] Página/12 removed their controversial articles about Bergoglio, written by Horacio Verbitsky, from their web page, as a result of this change.[118]

0]

On 13 April 2013, he named a group of eight cardinals to advise him and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus, including several known as critics of Vatican operations and only one member of the Curia.[201] They areGiuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican City State governorate; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa from Chile; Oswald Gracias from India; Reinhard Marx from Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; George Pell from Australia; Seán O’Malley from the United States; and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras. He appointed Bishop Marcello Semeraro secretary for the group and scheduled its first meeting for 1–3 October.[202]

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