Pope Francis I. His Holiness is the 266th successor to Peter of Bethsaida as bishop of Rome and vicar of Jesus Christ, supreme pontiff of the universal Church, primate of Italy, archbishop and metropolitan of the Roman Province, sovereign of Vatican City State, and servant of the servants of God. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936.
Pope Francis I entered the Society of Jesus in 1958 and was ordained to the presbyterate in 1969. Father Bergoglio served as provincial for the Jesuits in Argentina (1973–1979) and as rector of the seminary in San Miguel (1980–1986). In 1992, he was ordained a bishop, serving as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires from 1992 to 1998, when he succeeded Cardinal Quarrancino as archbishop. At the same time he became archbishop, he was named ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina who did not have a local ordinary. Pope John Paul named Archbishop Bergoglio a cardinal in 2001. He served as a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments as well as a member of two other Vatican congregations, a pontifical council, and the Commission for Latin America. When he was declared a cardinal, he decided not to buy new clothing. Instead, he ordered that the clothing of Cardinal Quarrancino be mended to fit him.
Pope Francis I, as Jesuit superior and then as archbishop, Cardinal Bergoglio walked a tightrope, promoting the Latin American Church’s “preferential option for the poor” but arguing against some extreme positions taken by clergy following liberation theology. His role in the kidnapping of two Jesuits and their dismissal from the Society during the “dirty war” of the 1970s in Argentina is unclear, but it is clear that he interceded with the country’s dictator, Jorge Rafael Videla, and that probably saved the priests’ lives. On the other hand, reportedly, he sheltered people from the dictatorship on church property, and he once gave his own identity papers to a man who looked like him so that this man could flee Argentina.
Pope Francis I His own lifestyle, as has been widely reported, certainly aligns him with the poor. Like many other “John Paul bishops,” he is progressive socially while being very conservative on issues of personal morality. He spoke about all these issues in 2007. Addressing a meeting of the Latin American bishops, he reminded them that “we live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least.” In that same year, he denounced cultural toleration of child abuse and “discarding of the elderly.”
Pope Francis I also presented the “Aparecida Document”—a joint statement of the Latin American bishops—which, among its several hundred conclusions, called the bishops to “‘Eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated.”