back to top

Everything You Need To Know About Pope Francis

The Catholic formerly known as Jorge Bergoglio.

Posted on

Pope Francis was born in 1936 as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the son of an Italian railroad worker who immigrated to Buenos Aires. As a teenager, Bergoglio reportedly had an infected lung removed.

Before being elected Pope, Bergoglio was the Cardinal-Priest of S. Roberto Bellarmino and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

MARCOS BRINDICCI / Reuters

The Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Liniers in August 2009.

Advertisement

During the 2005 papal conclave, he reportedly got the second-most votes behind Joseph Ratzinger to succeed Pope John Paul II.

Bergoglio believes in modesty. In Argentina, he traveled by bus instead of chauffer, lived in a small apartment instead of the cardinal's residence, and discouraged Argentineans from flying to Rome for papal celebrations.

"We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least," he said in 2007. "The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven..."

Advertisement

Bergoglio's orthodox views are consistent with the church. He opposes abortion, contraception and is outspoken against same-sex marriage, calling a 2010 Argentinian marriage equality bill "destructive" to God's plan.

Bergoglio has denied accusations that he conspired with the military to kidnap two Jesuit priests who advocated for overthrowing the regime.

The Argentinean bishops apologized in 2000 and 2012, saying they "share everyone’s pain and once again ask the forgiveness of everyone we failed or didn’t support as we should have."

Advertisement

Bergoglio's decision to be called "Francis" is a significant one. The most famous Francis in Catholic history is St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for valuing poverty and humility.

CNN vatican expert John Allen called Bergoglio's choice "stunning" and "precedent shattering ... there can be only one Francis."

As Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo noted Wednesday, the name signals Bergoglio's "desire to be a force of unity in a polarized fold, a heart for the poor, and his intent to ... rebuild the church."

Jessica Testa is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Jessica Testa at jessica.testa@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.