Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, one
of the five children of an Italian immigrant railway worker and his wife. He
received a master's degree in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires,
and then studied at the seminary in Villa Devoto. He entered the Society of
Jesus on 11 March 1958. Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from
the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel, and then 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 13 December 1969, by Archbishop Ramón
José Castellano. He attended the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of
San Miguel, a seminary in San Miguel. Bergoglio attained the position of
novice master there and became professor of theology.
Impressed with his leadership skills, the Society of Jesus promoted
Bergoglio and he served as provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979. He
was transferred in 1980 to become the rector of the seminary in San Miguel
where he had studied. He served 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 28 February 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 21 February 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 for Latin America and the Family Council.
As cardinal, Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal
conservatism and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle
contributed to his reputation for humility. He lived in a small apartment,
rather than in the palatial bishop's residence. He gave up his chauffeured
limousine in favour of public transportation, and he reportedly cooked his
On the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio was considered
one of the papabile cardinals. He participated as a cardinal elector in
the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. It has been reported that Bergoglio was in close contention with Ratzinger during the election, until
he made an emotional plea that the cardinals should not vote for him.
Earlier, he had participated in the funeral of Pope John Paul II and acted
as a regent alongside the College of Cardinals, governing the Holy See and
the Roman Catholic Church during the interregnum sede vacante period.
During the 2005 Synod of Bishops, he was elected a member of the Post-Synodal
council. Catholic journalist John L. Allen, Jr. reported that Bergoglio was
a frontrunner in the 2005 Conclave. An unauthorized diary of uncertain
authenticity released in September 2005 confirmed that Bergoglio was the
runner-up and main challenger of Cardinal Ratzinger at that conclave. The
purported diary of the anonymous cardinal claimed Bergoglio received 40
votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive
On 8 November 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 re-elected on November 11, 2008.
Cardinal Bergoglio was elected pope on 13 March 2013 at 7:06 p.m, the second
day of the 2013 Papal conclave, taking the papal name Francis. Cardinal
Bergoglio is the first Jesuit priest chosen to be pope. He is the first pope
to have been born in the Americas and is the first non-European pope in over
1,200 years; the last non-European pope, St. Gregory III, was born in Syria
and reigned from 731 to 741. He is also the first pope since Pope John Paul
I to take a previously unused papal name, and as John Paul I took his name
from the previous two popes (Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI) in tribute to
them, Francis is the first pope since Pope Lando to take an entirely
original papal name.