Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio;[b] 17 December 1936) is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and sovereign of Vatican City. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technologist and nightclub bouncer before beginning seminary studies. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina's provincial superior of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina, and the administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March.
Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, emphasis on God's mercy, concern for the poor and commitment to interfaith dialogue. He is credited with having a less formal approach to the papacy than his predecessors, for instance choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors. In addition, due to both his Jesuit and Ignatian aesthetic, he is known for favoring simpler vestments void of ornamentation, including refusing the traditional papal mozzetta cape upon his election, choosing silver instead of gold for his piscatory ring, and keeping the same pectoral cross he had as cardinal. He maintains that the Church should be more open and welcoming. He does not support unbridled capitalism, Marxism, or Marxist versions of liberation theology. Francis maintains the traditional views of the Church regarding abortion, marriage, ordination of women, and clerical celibacy. He opposes consumerism, irresponsible development, and supports taking action on climate change, a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si'. In international diplomacy, he helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Since the publication of Amoris Laetitia in 2016, Francis has faced increasingly open criticism from theological conservatives, particularly on the question of admitting civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936 in Flores, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest of five children of Mario José Bergoglio (1908–1959) and Regina María Sívori (1911–1981). Mario Bergoglio was an Italian immigrant accountant born in Portacomaro (Province of Asti) in Italy's Piedmont region. Regina Sívori was a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin. Mario José's family left Italy in 1929 to escape the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini. According to María Elena Bergoglio, the Pope's only living sibling, they did not emigrate for economic reasons. His other siblings were Alberto Horacio, Oscar Adrián and Marta Regina. Two great-nephews, Antonio and Joseph, died in a traffic collision.
In the sixth grade, Bergoglio attended Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles, a school of the Salesians of Don Bosco, in Ramos Mejía, Buenos Aires. He attended the technical secondary school Escuela Técnica Industrial N° 27 Hipólito Yrigoyen, named after a past President of Argentina, and graduated with a chemical technician's diploma. He worked for a few years in that capacity in the foods section at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory where his boss was Esther Ballestrino. Before joining the Jesuits, Bergoglio worked as a bar bouncer and as a janitor sweeping floors, and he also ran tests in a chemical laboratory.
In the only known health crisis of his youth, at the age of 21 he suffered from life-threatening pneumonia and three cysts. He had part of a lung excised shortly afterwards. Bergoglio has been a lifelong supporter of San Lorenzo de Almagrofootball club. Bergoglio is also a fan of the films of Tita Merello,neorealism, and tango dancing, with a fondness for the traditional music of Argentina and Uruguay known as the milonga.
Bergoglio found his vocation to the priesthood while he was on his way to celebrate the Spring Day. He passed by a church to go to confession, and was inspired by the priest. Bergoglio studied at the archdiocesan seminary, Inmaculada Concepción Seminary, in Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires, and, after three years, entered the Society of Jesus as a novice on 11 March 1958. Bergoglio has said that, as a young seminarian, he had a crush on a girl he met and briefly doubted about continuing the religious career. As a Jesuit novice he studied humanities in Santiago, Chile. At the conclusion of his novitiate in the Society of Jesus, Bergoglio officially became a Jesuit on 12 March 1960, when he made the religious profession of the initial, perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience of a member of the order.
In 1960, Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo de San José in San Miguel, Buenos Aires Province. He taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción, a high school in Santa Fe, from 1964 to 1965. In 1966 he taught the same courses at the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires.
In 1967, Bergoglio finished his theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood on 13 December 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He attended the Facultades de Filosofía y Teología de San Miguel (Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel), a seminary in San Miguel. He served as the master of novices for the province there and became a professor of theology.
Bergoglio completed his final stage of spiritual training as a Jesuit, tertianship, at Alcalá de Henares, Spain. He took the final fourth vow (obedience to the pope) in the Society of Jesus on 22 April 1973. He was named provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina on 31 July 1973 and served until 1979. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1973, shortly after being named provincial superior, but his stay was shortened by the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. After the completion of his term of office, in 1980 he was named the rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel in San Miguel. Before taking up this new appointment, he spent the first three months of 1980 in Ireland to learn English, staying at the Jesuit Centre at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin. After returning to Argentina to take up his new post at San Miguel, Father Bergoglio served in that capacity until 1986. He was removed as rector by the Jesuit superior-general Peter Hans Kolvenbach because Bergoglio's policy of educating the young Jesuits in direct pastoral work and in popular religiosity was opposed to the worldwide trend in the Society of Jesus of emphasizing social justice based on sociological analysis, especially promoted by the Centro de Investigaciones y Accion Social (CIAS).
He spent several months at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany, while considering possible dissertation topics,, he settled on exploring the work of the German / Italian theologian Romano Guardini, particularly around his study of 'Contrast' published in his 1925 work Der Gegensatz. However he was to return to Argentina prematurely to serve as a confessor and spiritual director to the Jesuit community in Córdoba. In Germany, he saw the painting Mary Untier of Knots in Augsburg and brought a copy of the painting to Argentina where it has become an important Marian devotion.[c] As a student at the Salesian school, Bergoglio was mentored by Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest Stefan Czmil. Bergoglio often rose hours before his classmates to serve Mass for Czmil.
Bergoglio was asked in 1992 by Jesuit authorities not to reside in Jesuit houses, because of continued tensions with Jesuit leaders and scholars, a sense of Bergoglio's "dissent", views of his Catholic orthodoxy and his opposition to theology of liberation, and his work as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. From then on, he did not visit Jesuit houses and was in "virtual estrangement from the Jesuits" until after his election as Pope.
Pre-papal Episcopate (1992–2013)
Bergoglio was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and ordained on 27 June 1992 as Titular Bishop of Auca, with Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, serving as principal consecrator. He chose as his episcopal motto Miserando atque eligendo. It is drawn from Saint Bede's homily on Matthew 9:9–13: "because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him".
On 3 June 1997, Bergoglio was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires with right of automatic succession. Upon Quarracino's death on 28 February 1998, Bergoglio became Metropolitan Archbishop of Buenos Aires. In that role, Bergoglio created new parishes and restructured the archdiocese administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives, and created a commission on divorces. One of Bergoglio's major initiatives as archbishop was to increase the Church's presence in the slums of Buenos Aires. Under his leadership, the number of priests assigned to work in the slums doubled. This work led to him being called the "Slum Bishop".
Early in his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio sold off the archdiocese's shares in multiple banks and turned its accounts into those of a normal customer in international banks. The shares in banks had led the local church to a high leniency towards high spending, and the archdiocese was nearing bankruptcy as a result. As a normal customer of the bank, the church was forced into a higher fiscal discipline.
On 6 November 1998, while remaining Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was named ordinary for those Eastern Catholics in Argentina who lacked a prelate of their own rite. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has said that Bergoglio understands the liturgy, rites, and spirituality of his Greek Catholic Church and always "took care of our Church in Argentina" as ordinary for Eastern Catholics during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
In 2000, Bergoglio was the only church official to reconcile with Jerónimo Podestá, a former bishop who had been suspended as a priest after opposing the Argentine Revolution military dictatorship in 1972. He defended Podestá's wife from Vatican attacks on their marriage. That same year, Bergoglio said the Argentine Catholic Church needed "to put on garments of public penance for the sins committed during the years of the dictatorship" in the 1970s, during the Dirty War.
Bergoglio made it his custom to celebrate the Holy Thursday ritual washing of feet in places such as jails, hospitals, retirement homes or slums. In 2007, just two days after Benedict XVI issued new rules for using the liturgical forms that preceded the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Bergoglio was one of the first bishops in the world to respond by instituting a Tridentine Mass in Buenos Aires. It was celebrated weekly.
On 8 November 2005, Bergoglio was elected president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–08). He was reelected to another three-year term on 11 November 2008. He remained a member of that commission's permanent governing body, president of its committee for the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, and a member of its liturgy committee for the care of shrines. While head of the Argentine Catholic bishops' conference, Bergoglio issued a collective apology for his church's failure to protect people from the Junta during the Dirty War. When he turned 75 in December 2011, Bergoglio submitted his resignation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires to Pope Benedict XVI as required by canon law. Still, as he had no coadjutor archbishop, he stayed in office, waiting for an eventual replacement appointed by the Vatican.
At the consistory of 21 February 2001, Archbishop Bergoglio was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II with the title of cardinal-priest of San Roberto Bellarmino, a church served by Jesuits and named for one; he was formally installed in that church the following 14 October. When he traveled to Rome for the ceremony, he and his sister María Elena visited the village in northern Italy where their father was born. As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to five administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He was a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Commission for Latin America. Later that year, when Cardinal Edward Egan returned to New York following the September 11 attacks, Bergoglio replaced him as relator (recording secretary) in the Synod of Bishops, and, according to the Catholic Herald, created "a favourable impression as a man open to communion and dialogue".
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 elegant bishop's residence in the suburb of Olivos. He took public transportation and cooked his own meals. He limited his time in Rome to "lightning visits". He was known to be devoted to St. Therese of Lisieux, and he enclosed a small picture of her in the letters he wrote, calling her "a great missionary saint".
After Pope John Paul II died on 2 April 2005, Bergoglio attended his funeral and was considered one of the papabile for succession to the papacy. He participated as a cardinal elector in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. In the National Catholic Reporter, John L. Allen, Jr. reported that Bergoglio was a frontrunner in the 2005 conclave. In September 2005, the Italian magazine Limes published claims that Bergoglio had been the runner-up and main challenger to Cardinal Ratzinger at that conclave and that he had received 40 votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive ballot. The claims were based on a diary purportedly belonging to an anonymous cardinal who had been present at the conclave. According to the Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, this number of votes had no precedent for a Latin American papabile.La Stampa 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. According to Tornielli, Bergoglio made this request to prevent the conclave from delaying too much in the election of a pope.
As a cardinal, Bergoglio was associated with Communion and Liberation, a Catholic evangelical lay movement of the type known as associations of the faithful. He sometimes made appearances at the annual gathering known as the Rimini Meeting held during the late summer months in Italy. In 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio authorized the request for beatification—the third step towards sainthood—for six members of the Pallottine community murdered in the San Patricio Church massacre. At the same time, Bergoglio ordered an investigation into the murders themselves, which had been widely blamed on the National Reorganization Process, the military junta that ruled Argentina at the time.
Relations with Argentine governments
Bergoglio was the subject of allegations regarding the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests during Argentina's Dirty War. He feared for the priests' safety and had tried to change their work prior to their arrest; however, contrary to reports, he never tried to throw them out of the Jesuit order. In 2005, Myriam Bregman, a human rights lawyer, filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio, as superior in the Society of Jesus of Argentina, accusing him of involvement in the Navy's kidnapping of the two priests in May 1976. The lawyer's complaint did not specify the nature of Bergoglio's alleged involvement, and Bergoglio's spokesman flatly denied the allegations. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. The priests, Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalics, had been tortured, but found alive five months later, drugged and semi-naked. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the authorities that he endorsed their work. Yorio, who died in 2000, said in a 1999 interview that he believed that Bergoglio did nothing "to free us, in fact just the opposite". Jalics initially refused to discuss the complaint after moving into seclusion in a German monastery. However, two days after the election of Pope Francis, Jalics issued a statement confirming the kidnapping and attributing the cause to a former lay colleague who became a guerrilla, was captured, and named Yorio and Jalics when interrogated. The following week, Jalics issued a second, clarifying statement: "It is wrong to assert that our capture took place at the initiative of Father Bergoglio … the fact is, Orlando Yorio and I were not denounced by Father Bergoglio."
Bergoglio told his authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, that after the priests' imprisonment, he worked behind the scenes for their release; Bergoglio's intercession with dictator Jorge Rafael Videla on their behalf may have saved their lives. Bergoglio also told Rubin that he had often sheltered people from the dictatorship on church property, and once gave his own identity papers to a man who looked like him, so he could flee Argentina. The interview with Rubin, reflected in the biography El jesuita, is the only time Bergoglio has spoken to the press about those events. Alicia Oliveira, a former Argentine judge, has also reported that Bergoglio helped people flee Argentina during the rule of the junta. Since Francis became Pope, Gonzalo Mosca and José Caravias have related to journalists accounts of how Bergoglio helped them flee the Argentine dictatorship.
Oliveira described the future Pope as "anguished" and "very critical of the dictatorship" during the Dirty War. Oliveira met with him at the time and urged Bergoglio to speak out—he told her that "he couldn't. That it wasn't an easy thing to do." Artist and human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said: "Perhaps he didn't have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship … Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship."Graciela Fernández Meijide, member of the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, also said that there was no proof linking Bergoglio with the dictatorship. She told to the Clarín newspaper: "There is no information and Justice couldn't prove it. I was in the APDH during all the dictatorship years and I received hundreds of testimonies. Bergoglio was never mentioned. It was the same in the CONADEP. Nobody mentioned him as instigator or as anything."Ricardo Lorenzetti, President of the Argentine Supreme Court, also has said that Bergoglio is "completely innocent" of the accusations. Historian Uki Goñi pointed that, during the early 1976, the military junta still had a good image among society, and that the scale of the political repression was not known until much later; Bergoglio would have had little reason to suspect that the detention of Yorio and Jalics could end up in their deaths.
When Bergoglio became Pope, an alleged photo of him giving the sacramental bread to dictator Jorge Rafael Videla became viral in social networks. It has also been used by the newspaper Página/12. The photo was soon proved to be false. It was revealed that the priest, whose face is not visible in the photo, was Carlos Berón de Astrada. The photo was taken at the church "Pequeña Obra de la Divina Providencia Don Orione" in 1990, not during the Dirty War, and after Videla's presidential pardon. The photo was produced by the agency AFP and it was initially published by the Crónica newspaper.
Fernando de la Rúa
The Knots of the Pastor Bergoglio
He was the one who imported from Germany to Argentina the devotion to the Blessed Mother “untier of knots.” To his studies he preferred the care of souls. And today he is doing the same: he is leaving to others the exposition of doctrine. As in the case of communion for the divorced and remarried
by Sandro Magister
ROME, October 29, 2013 – Since he was elected pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been constantly under the gaze of the world, which is scrutinizing his every action and word.
But his previous biography is yet to be as well known.
The book by Nello Scavo "La lista di Bergoglio" has lifted the veil on the role of the young Jesuit during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship:
> The Jesuit Who Humiliated the Generals
But still little is known about the six years during which Bergoglio was superior of the Argentine province of the Society of Jesus, between 1973 and 1979, and about the real motivations that led to his subsequent marginalization, until his exile in the peripheral Jesuit residence of Córdoba, as a simple spiritual director.
It was in one of those difficult years that Bergoglio went to Germany "to finish his doctoral thesis,” as his official biography on the Vatican website succinctly puts it.
It was March of 1986. Bergoglio would be turning 50 in December. For the subject of his doctoral thesis he had chosen Romano Guardini, the great German theologian who was a master for two future popes, Paul VI and Benedict XVI, two of whose books Bergoglio had read and admired above all: "The Lord," on the person of Jesus, and "Der Gegensatz," published in Spanish with the title "Contrasteidad," highly critical of the Hegelian and Marxist dialectic.
But from how his transfer to Germany took place and how it was interrupted after only a few months, with the abandonment of the doctoral thesis, it can be deduced that Bergoglio undertook that voyage more at the orders of his Jesuit superiors than out of his own spontaneous will.
In his autobiographical interview "El Jesuita," Bergoglio would later recount that in Germany, every time he saw an airplane take off, he dreamed that he was on board, going to Argentina. Such was his desire to return to his country.
The archives of Romano Guardini were in Munich, while the theological faculty at which Bergoglio would defend his doctoral thesis was the Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt.
But he did not limit himself to shuttling between these two cities. From Munich one also can go quickly by train to Augsburg.
And it was there that his German transfer radically changed in character.
In Augsburg, in the church of the Jesuits, dedicated to Saint Peter, there is a venerated Marian image: the Blessed Mother "untier of knots."
In it Mary is depicted untying the knots of a ribbon held out to her by an angel, which another angel is receiving from her with no more knots. The meaning is clear. The knots are all that complicates life, difficulties, sins. And Mary is the one who helps to untie them.
Bergoglio was deeply struck by this Marian image. When he returned to Argentina a few months later, he brought with him a good number of prayer cards with the Blessed Mother "untier of knots."
His doctoral thesis was abandoned at its birth, and even the thought of Romano Guardini did not leave a lasting imprint upon Bergoglio. In the interview with Pope Francis in "La Civiltà Cattolica," in which he dedicates ample space to his authors of reference, Guardini is not there.
But in exchange, thanks to his stay in Germany in 1986, Bergoglio unknowingly brought a new Marian devotion to birth in Argentina.
An artist to whom he had given one of the prayer cards acquired in Augsburg reproduced the image and offered it to a parish of the working-class Barrio de Agronomía, in the center of Buenos Aires.
On display in the church, the image of Mary "desatanudos" attracted a growing number of devotees, converted sinners, and marked an unexpected growth of religious practice. To such an extent that after a few years there was a well-established tradition of a pilgrimage to the image, from all over Buenos Aires and from even farther away, on the 8th day of every month.
"I never felt myself so much an instrument in the hands of God," Bergoglio confided to a Jesuit confrere who was his disciple, Fr. Fernando Albistur, now a professor of biblical studies at the Colegio Máximo di San Miguel in Buenos Aires.
Fr. Albistur recounts this in a newly released book edited by Alejandro Bermúdez, with interviews with ten Jesuits and ten Argentine laymen who are longtime friends of Bergoglio.
And he is not the only one. In the same book, Fr. Juan Carlo Scannone, the most authoritative of the Argentine theologians and a former professor of the young Jesuit Bergoglio, also relates the same episode.
In Scannone's judgment, the instance of the Blessed Mother "untier of knots" helps us to understand more deeply the "pastoral" profile of Pope Francis and his accentuated attention to the "people."
Bergoglio has never been a theologian, much less an academic. Among the theologians he says that he likes Henri De Lubac and Michel de Certeau. But not because he has assimilated the overall positions of the two, which moreover are very different. He almost always cites only one of De Lubac's books, "Meditations on the Church," and almost always only one passage from this: that against the "worldliness" of the Church.
Also as pope he is above all a man of action, of pastoral action. Those who have known him up close and have been friends with him for years - like the twenty interviewed for the book by Alejandro Bermúdez - see in him exceptional qualities of command and noteworthy strategical abilities. None of his actions, none of his words, is ever left to chance. And his priority is the pastoral care of the "people" entrusted to him, who since he has become pope have been extended to the whole world.
His preaching is intentionally suited to this profile. It is primarily addressed to the common people, to the weak in faith, to the sinners, to the faraway. Not as a whole, but as if the pope would like to speak one-on-one with each of them.
Just as in the Gospel Jesus is very demanding in the commandments but turns to individual sinners with mercy, so also Pope Francis wants to be.
On disputed questions, on birth, on death, on procreation, he is of undisputed doctrinal orthodoxy: "The view of the Church is known and I am a son of the Church," he bluntly stated in the interview with "La Civiltà Cattolica."
But he leaves the exposition of doctrine to others, and reserves for himself the merciful style of the care of souls.
The most striking example of this joint action came a few days ago, when on the disputed question of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics Pope Francis set to work the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller. Who in an extensive article in "L'Osservatore Romano" reiterated from top to tail the reasons for the 'no' to communion:
> Divorced and Remarried. Müller Writes, Francis Dictates
Archbishop Müller is one of the few heads of the curia whom Francis has confirmed in his role. A man, therefore, who has his complete trust. To whom he has not hesitated to entrust also the task - in the same article - of dispelling the interpretive ambiguities born from some of the formulations concerning "mercy" and "conscience" used by the pope himself in his public conversation.
The inauguration of this twofold communicative register - in this case, of the pope and of his guardian of doctrine - almost entirely escaped the notice of the media, still dazzled by the presumed "openness" of the former. But it is likely to be repeated with other issues.
And perhaps it will permit the untying of an interpretive knot of the current pontificate: that of the apparent distancing of pope Bergoglio from his predecessors in confronting the "anthropological challenge."
Pope Francis explicitly referred to the Blessed Mother "untier of knots" in the first part of the meditation he gave on October 12 in Saint Peter's Square, on the Marian day of the year of faith, in the presence of an even more famous Marian image, that of Fatima:
> "Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin…"
Alejandro Bermúdez (edit.), "Pope Francis. Our Brother, Our Friend", Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2013.
English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.
For more news and commentary, see the blog that Sandro Magister maintains, available only in Italian:
> SETTIMO CIELO