After two days of deliberation, the cardinals in Rome have selected a new pope. Argentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is now Pope Francis I. As I write this, he is addressing the assembled crowd at St. Peter's Square.
This selection is a huge surprise. Pope Francis is the first Latin American pope, for one thing. For another, he was not among the front-runners as predicted by the media. The cardinals made a bold choice! Here's what we know about former cardinal Jorge Bergoglio so far.
- As we said, this is the first Catholic pope from Latin America. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1936.
- He is 76 years old.
- He is the first to take the name "Francis." The name symbolizes "poverty, humility, simplicity, and rebuilding the Catholic church," says CNN Vatican expert John Allen.
- He lives simply. He reportedly cooks his own meals and gave up the chauffeured limo cardinals are entitled to. Instead, he takes a bus to work. He gave up a lavish cardinal's residence and lives in a small apartment.
- In college Pope Francis studied chemistry. He worked as a professor, teaching philosophy, literature, and psychology.
- He is known for his commitment to social justice.
- On the other hand, he is also known as a doctrinal conservative who opposes same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.
Given the big picture, maybe this is not such a surprising choice after all. The cardinals were unlikely to make the risky choice of choosing a doctrinally liberal priest. On the other hand, choosing a Latin American cardinal known for his commitment to social justice shows the cardinals realize that the demographics of Catholicism have changed, and that their people need a leader who displays compassion.
What do you think about the cardinals' choice?
Image via Peter Mcdiarmid/Getty