In 2013, Francis became the head of the Roman Catholic Church (born on December 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina) – the first pope from the Western Hemisphere, first from South America, and the first Jesuit.
Early Life And Career
Bergoglio is the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina. While studying to become a chemical
technician in high school, he briefly worked in the food-processing industry before becoming a
pastor. In his early twenties, he suffered a severe bout of pneumonia that required the removal
of part of his right lung. When he entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1958, he studied humanities in
Santiago, Chile, and earned a licentiate in philosophy in Buenos Aires. While pursuing a degree
in theology, he taught literature and psychology in high schools. In 1969, he ordained a
priest, completed his Jesuit vows in 1973 and later served as superior (head) of the Jesuit
province of Argentina.
Five Months After Disappearing
The tenure of Bergoglio as head of Argentina’s Jesuits coincided with the 1976 military coup led
by Lieut. Videla, Gen. Jorge Rafael. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people disappeared (kidnapped,
tortured, and usually killed) by the military and police during the Dirty War (1976–83). Later,
Bergoglio claimed to have hidden several people from the authorities and even helped some of
them flee. Five months after disappearing in 1976, two Jesuit priests who had worked in poor
neighbourhoods were found alive but dragged in a field. Bergoglio’s kidnapping and release of
priests generated controversy years after the Dirty War. Critics have accused Bergoglio of failing
to protect the priests and even turning them over to the regime. According to Bergoglio, he
interceded covertly with the regime to secure their eventual release. In the end, Bergoglio was
found not guilty of complicity in the disappearance of the priests. Read More
As a seminary teacher and rector, Bergoglio worked in Germany during the 1980s. He was
appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992. In 1998, he was named archbishop of
Buenos Air (a position he held until he was elected pope), and in 2001, he consecrated a
cardinal. Bergoglio gained a reputation for humility during Argentina’s economic crisis in the late
The 1990s culminated in 2002 with a rapid devaluation of the country’s currency.
He lived in a simple downtown apartment rather than an archbishop’s residence and travelled by
public transport or on foot instead of a chauffeured limousine. As an outspoken advocate for
the poor and a skilled politician, he successfully promoted the church’s position on social issues
with government officials. His theological conservatism, however, put him at odds with the
leftist administrations of President Roosevelt. The Kirchners (2003–07) and their successor,
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007–15). The pope was particularly critical in 2010 regarding
Fernández’s social initiatives, including legalizing gay marriage. As a result, Fernández painted
Bergoglio was a right-wing extremist and a supporter of Videla’s dictatorship.
As a result of his old age and health concerns, Pope Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013. Conclaves were convening in early March, raising hopes that Benedict’s replacement would be elected and installed by Easter. Bergoglio chose the name Francis on the fifth ballot as a tribute to St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226) and to recall St. Francis Xavier (1506–52), a founder of the Jesuit order. Despite being the first Pope Francis and being referred to as “Francis I,” he refused to use the Roman numeral I to indicate his first papal name. In the past, the integer I had not.
A pope’s name was not added until a second pope was elected. Pope John Paul, I was the first pope to use the numeral. At a crossroads, Francis took charge of a church. During the early 21st century, Roman Catholics comprised more than one-sixth of the world’s population, mainly in Latin America and Africa. Yet scandals had undermined the church’s stature, particularly in the United States and Europe following the clergy sexual abuse scandals of the 1980s and 1990s. While measuring his early public speeches, Francis emphasized the need for spiritual renewal within the church. Attention was paid to the poor. He condemned those forces that diverted the church from its mission and put it at risk of becoming a pitiful NGO.
Redeemed All Of Us
Also, he invited Fernández to his first official papal address, where he reached out to his political opponents, including Fernández. Although he wore a simple tunic instead of the more traditional papal garments on that occasion, he incensed some traditionalists. In 2013, he appointed an unprecedented group of eight cardinals to advise him on church matters. Francis’ remarks in that year that Christ had “redeemed all of us,” even non-Catholics, were interpreted by the media as an outreach to atheists and agnostics. However, a Vatican spokesman later defended his remarks. More Information.
Several of Francis’ statements conveyed an openness to different perspectives on Catholic doctrine, particularly on social issues and sexual ethics. The Vatican later toned down such information, or Francis seemed to contradict them. In a September 2013 interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine, Francis criticized the church for being “obsessed” with homosexuality, abortion, and birth control. He speculated inside and outside the church that the remark would lead to a significant shift in Catholic teaching and practice on topics like same-sex marriage and contraception. A year later, Francis spoke out against same-sex marriages and defended”traditional” families.
United Nations Commission
Furthermore, he affirmed the church’s categorical opposition to abortion. While Francis acknowledged women’s historic role in the church and spoke sympathetically about women’s rights, the pope did not endorse the ordination of women to the priesthood. Another challenge facing Francis’ papacy was the lingering effects of the church’s sexual abuse scandal. While visiting Dutch bishops in December 2013, Francis prayed for victims of sexual abuse and encouraged them to reach out to them. The United Nations Commission on the Rights of the Child recommended in January 2014 that the Vatican adopt a procedure for mandatory reporting of suspected child abusers to authorities, but it was rebuffed later that year based on the jurisdictional issue.
The Vatican was slow to punish and defrock priests who were known paedophiles, according to critics. During his papal tenure, he championed the poor and oppressed and promoted a broad ministry that included non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians. In the traditional Maundy Thursday reenactment of Jesus washing the feet of the Twelve Apostles, he passed the feet of two young women, including a Muslim. Traditionalists were outraged by his actions. ( Women were not allowed to attend the ceremony because the Apostles were men.) As a result of his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), in November 2013, he denounced economic inequality and called for churches to embrace global diversity.
Francis publicly denounced the alleged persecution of Christians and religious minorities by the
transnational Sunni insurgent force Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In February 2019, Francis visited the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, to promote religious fraternity and peace. During his three-day trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, he attended the Global Conference on Human Fraternity. He met with Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque and one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam. In the country’s largest display of Christian worship in history, he also celebrated a papal mass attended by approximately 180,000 people, including many Christian immigrants.