Pope Francis

Following resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 28th 2013, a convention of the papal conclave in Rome elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as his successor on 13th March of the same year. Jorge chose the name Francis as his papal name as a tribute to Saint Francis of Asisi. The choice of Jorge by the papal conclave as a successor to Pope Benedict XVI took the world by surprise considering the Pope’s back ground which was somehow unique in pattern compared to that of his predecessors; Pope Francis is the first Latin-American Pope, the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first Pope from outside Europe in more than one thousand years, he is also the first Pope from the Jesuit Order (The Order of Jesus).

Quick Facts on Pope Francis

Pope Francis, also known as Francis I, was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17th 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both his parents were Italian immigrants to Argentina who had escaped Italy in 1929 from the tyranny rule of Benito Mussolini. Pope Francis was the eldest of his five siblings.

While in High school in his teenage years, Pope Francis worked in a sock factory where his father also worked as an accountant; this was as a recommendation from his father who believed in instilling strong work ethics in his children. Thus for two years, Pope Francis worked part time as a cleaner in the factory.

The Pope was later promoted to carry out administrative tasks in the same office as his father, a position which he found dull and monotonous. This is how the Pope took an interest in studying food chemistry in an industrial school as a means to secure a stable future, or so he thought. Having been used to the work environment, the Pope sought a part time job in the food processing industry and was soon taken in as a junior employee in one of the labs in his hometown; he worked from 7 am to 1 pm, had a one hour lunch break, and headed to school until 8 pm. Pope Francis claimed that this period played a huge part in his life, because in hindsight, he came to understand the importance of hard work which has helped him in administration of his pastoral work.

After High school, where he graduated with diploma as a chemical technician, Pope Francis did some odd jobs to support himself. He briefly worked as a bouncer in a popular club by night and as a janitor by day cleaning tables and wiping floors. He later joined the food processing industry where he worked for several years.

At the age of 21, the Pope suffered a severe bout of pneumonia which led to part of his right lung to be removed. In 1958 Pope Francis was inspired by a priest after a confession session which led him to join the Jesuit Order as a novice in the same year. As a Jesuit novice, Pope Francis shifted his focus to academics where he studied humanities in Santiago Chile. On 12th March 1960, Pope Francis formally became a Jesuit and took vows of obedience, chastity and poverty.
In 1960 Pope Francis earned himself a licentiate (similar to a master’s degree) in philosophy. Thereafter, he taught psychology and literature in high school while at the same time pursuing a degree in theology. In 1969 Pope Francis was formally ordained as a Catholic priest, and a few years later, in 1973 he took his final solemn vows as a Jesuit.
Subsequently, Pope Francis was made head of the Jesuit province of Argentina; a position whose term runs for six years.
Pope Francis’ tenure as head of the Jesuit coincided with the military coup in Argentina where mass killings, kidnap, and torture were the order of the day. Pope Francis played a significant role during this period as he later claimed that he had hidden many people from the authorities, even assisting some of them to flee the country.

In the 1980s, Pope Francis worked as a seminary teacher while pursuing a degree in theology in Germany. On 20th May 1992, he was named an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, and a week later ordained into that post. In February of 1998, Pope Francis was appointed Bishop of Buenos Aires succeeding Antonio Quarracino; he was consecrated and made cardinal in 2001.

During Argentina’s economic crisis that started in the late 1990s until around 2002, Pope Francis earned a good public reputation for his humility where he opted to live in a simple downtown apartment rather than in the lavish archbishop’s residence. Incidentally, he chose public means as his mode of transport over being driven around in a chauffeured limousine. Apparently, all these factors earned him popularity among the masses as well as the church leadership; there is a high probability that these traits of being a holy, humble, intelligent, and inspiring priest, devoid of ambition and with a passionate love for the poor played a huge role in informing the papal conclave in voting him in as the present Pope.

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