New Pope Francis I: 7 Facts About the Cardinal Formerly Known as Jorge Bergoglio

pope francis 1After 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.

  1. As we said, this is the first Catholic pope from Latin America. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1936.
  2. He is 76 years old.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. In college Pope Francis studied chemistry. He worked as a professor, teaching philosophy, literature, and psychology.
  6. He is known for his commitment to social justice.
  7. 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

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