First Pope to come from the
Americas: Who is this man named Bergoglio?
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, born December 17, 1936 is
the newly elected pope of the Roman Catholic Church.Taking the regnal name of Francis, after St. Francis of
Assisi Bergoglio served as an Argentine cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
Serving as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998, he was elevated to the
cardinalate in 2001. He is the first pope to come from the Americas.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I.LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online):
Born in Buenos Aires, Bergoglio was one of the five children of an Italian
railway worker and his wife. After studying at the seminary in Villa Devoto, he
entered the Society of Jesus in 1958. Bergoglio taught literature and psychology
at the Colegio de la Inmaculada in Santa Fe, and the Colegio del Salvador in
Buenos Aires. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 13, 1969, by
Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. Bergoglio attained the position of novice
master there and became professor of theology.
The Society of Jesus,
impressed with his leadership skills, promoted Bergoglio where he served as
provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979.
He then transferred in 1980
to become the rector of the seminary in San Miguel where had had studied,
serving in that capacity until 1986. He completed his doctoral dissertation in
Germany and returned to his homeland to serve as confessor and spiritual
director in Córdoba.
Bergoglio succeeded Cardinal Quarracino on February
28, 1998. He was concurrently named ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina,
who lacked their own prelate. Pope John Paul II summoned the newly named
archbishop to the consistory of February 21, 2001 in Vatican City and elevated
Bergoglio with the papal honors of a cardinal. He was named to the
Cardinal-Priest of Saint Robert Bellarmino.
As cardinal, Bergoglio was
appointed to several administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He served on
the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments,
Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Congregation of Societies
of Apostolic Life. Bergoglio became a member of the Commission on Latin American
and the Family Council.
As Cardinal, Bergoglio became known for personal
humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to authenti social justice. A
simple lifestyle has contributed to his reputation for humility. Living in a
small apartment, he eschews the typical palatial bishop's residence. He gave up
his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and reportedly
cooks his own meals.
Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio,
considered papabile himself, participated in the 2005 papal conclave as a
cardinal elector, the conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.
November 8, 2005, Bergoglio was elected President of the Argentine Episcopal
Conference for a three-year term (2005-2008) by a large majority of the
Argentine bishops, which according to reports confirms his local leadership and
the international prestige earned by his alleged performance in the conclave. He
was reelected on November 11, 2008.
Bergoglio is an accomplished
theologian who distanced himself from liberation theology early in his career.
He is thought to be close to Comunione e Liberazione, a conservative lay
Cardinal Bergoglio has invited his clergy and laity to oppose
both abortion and euthanasia.
Among his teachings and stands, he strongly
affirms church teaching on the intrinsic immorality of homosexual practices,
though he teaches the importance of respecting homosexual persons. He strongly
opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to give legal
equivalency between true marriage and homosexual partners. He has also insisted
that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children.
His doctrinal orthodoxy emphasizes Christ's mandate to love: he is well
remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the
feet of twelve AIDS patients.
His tenure has been marked with
controversy. On April 15, 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint
against Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the junta in 1976 to kidnap
two Jesuit priests, whom he, as superior of the Society of Jesus of Argentina in
1976, had asked to leave their pastoral work following conflict within the
Society over how to respond to the new military dictatorship, with some priests
advocating a violent overthrow. Bergoglio's spokesman has flatly denied the
allegations. No evidence was presented linking the cardinal to this