Papa Francesco

POPE FRANCIS

Francis I, the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church

After the papal resignation of Benedict XVI, a conclave was called on 11th February 2013, and on March 13th the first non-European pope was elected; the first Jesuit pope and the first to take his papal name from St. Francis of Assisi.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, first of five children, was born in Buenos Aires on December 17th 1936.

He gained a diploma as a chemical technician, entered the seminary and then into the Society of Jesus. He is versatile because "the Jesuit must be a person of open thinking" inclined to dialectics; the Jesuit schools produce great personalities because they adopt a human approach to doctrine.

Here he teaches literature and psychology, and graduates in philosophy and theology.

In 1992 St. John Paul II ordained him bishop, and in 2001 cardinal. In 2005 he was among those who elected Benedict XVI as pope.

He has produced 2 Encyclicals, has made 46 international journeys and in 2015 he announced an Extraordinary Jubilee which for the first time since 1300 did not begin in Rome, but in Africa. He has a very followed Twitter account, a dedicated website and a weekly magazine.

The man

He does not live in the Papal apartment of the Apostolic Palace, but in order to live a life as normal as possible he resides in St. Marta, a modern residence at the Sacristy of St. Peter. His austere rooms do not exceed 50 square meters in size.

He is a robust man, 1.76 m tall, but has lived for 50 years without a part of his right lung. He is extremely active, waking up at 5.00 a.m. in the morning and going to bed at 10.00 pm.

At 7.00 am he celebrates mass in St. Marta, where a small number of faithful can attend (with a written request via ordinary mail to the Secretariat of State, accepting the dates available).

After lunch he rests, and then with a coffee gets back to work. He has dinner at 8pm, and prays before going to bed.

A controversial papacy

He also arouses interest outside the Catholic world; his goal is that of a Church that is open to current environmental, financial and social issues, and his simplicity is a precise communication choice. His political positions have also raised hostility, however the struggle for a pauperistic Church has always created diatribes (just think of the Franciscans).

Memorable phrases and acts

"Mary is God’s influencer" World Youth Day 2019.

During an Angelus he distributed 20,000 packs of Misericordina, a "medicine" consisting of a boxed rosary similar to the well-known drug.

In 2017 he received an honorary degree in Medicine as a "doctor of the soul".

His phone calls to ordinary people, the sick, but also controversial figures, are famous. Pietro Maso - who killed his parents in 1991 at the age of 19 - wrote him a letter. A phone call followed: "I couldn't believe it. He also asked me to pray for him. He, the Pope, who asked me to pray for him. I, who am the last, the cursed, the murderer, the monster ".

Argentina

A journalistic investigation revealed his commitment during the dictatorship to protecting dissidents by hiding them and favouring their expatriation.

Since 1998, when Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio travelled on public transport and followed his favourite team to the stadium. He even moved Diego Armando Maradona, who after a charity game embraced him saying: "Holy Father I hated all this, the Vatican, the churches, but after your embrace I put myself at your disposal".