Pope Francis

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Pope (Bishop of Rome etc.)
Pope Francis 2013.jpg

Pope Francis in March 2013
Papacy began 13 March 2013
Predecessor Benedict XVI
Ordination 13 December 1969
by Ramón José Castellano
Consecration 27 June 1992
by Antonio Quarracino
Created Cardinal 21 February 2001
by John Paul II
Personal details
Birth name Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Born (1936-12-17) 17 December 1936 (age 77)
Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Argentine with Vatican citizenship
Residence Domus Sanctae Marthae
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Motto Miserando atque Eligendo[a]
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Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio,[b] 17 December 1936) is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, in which capacity he is Bishop of Rome and absolute Sovereign of the Vatican City State.[2]

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technician and nightclub bouncer before entering the seminary.[3] He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and was created a Cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March. He chose Francis as his papal name in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is the first Jesuit Pope, the first Pope from the Americas, the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European Pope since Pope Gregory III in 741, 1272 years earlier.[4]

Throughout his public life, both as an individual and as a religious leader, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, his concern for the poor, and his commitment to dialogue as a way to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths.[5][6][7] He is known for having a simpler and less formal approach to the papacy, most notably by choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace formerly used by his predecessors. In addition, due to both his Jesuit and Ignatian aesthetic,[8] he is known for favoring simpler vestments void of ornamentation, by starting to refuse 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 when he was cardinal.[9][10]

Pope Francis has affirmed Catholic doctrine on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. Whilst maintaining the church’s teaching against homosexual acts, he has said that gay people should not be marginalized.[11] As a Cardinal, the Pontiff opposed gay marriage in Argentina.[12] In addition, he maintains that he is aSon of the Church” regarding loyalty to Church doctrine, and has spoken against abortion as “horrific”,[13] insisted that women be valued, not clericized.[14] Summarily, Pope Francis reiterates that “It is absurd to say you follow Jesus Christ, but reject the Church.”[15][16]

Accordingly, he urged Bishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta to speak out against adoption by same-sex couples,[17][18] maintained that divorced and re-married Catholics may not receive Holy Communion,[19][20] and excommunicated a former Catholic priest for Eucharistic sacrilege and heretical views.[21][22] Furthermore, he emphasized the Christian obligation to assist the poor and the needy in an optimistic tone, as well as promoting peace negotiations and interfaith dialogue.[23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

Early life

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Flores,[30] a barrio of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest[31] of five children of Mario José Bergoglio, an Italian immigrant accountant[32] born in Portacomaro (Province of Asti) in Italy’s Piedmont region, and his wife Regina María Sívori,[33] a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin.[34][35][36][37][38] Bergoglio’s sister María Elena told reporters decades later that their father often said that “the advent of fascism was the reason that really pushed him to leave” Italy. She is the pope’s only living sibling.[39] His brother Alberto died in June 2010.[40]

Bergoglio has been a lifelong supporter of the San Lorenzo de Almagro football club.[41] Bergoglio is also a fan of the films of Tita Merello,[42] neorealism and tango dancing, with an “intense fondness” for the traditional music of Argentina and Uruguay known as the milonga.[42] 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.[43] He attended the technical secondary school Escuela Nacional de Educación Técnica N° 27 Hipólito Yrigoyen[44] and graduated with a chemical technician’s diploma.[45] He worked for a few years in that capacity in the foods section at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory.[46] 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.[44][47]

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.[48][49][50]

Pre-papal career


Jorge Mario Bergoglio (fourth boy from the left on the third row from the top) at age 12, while studying at the Salesian College.

Bergoglio studied at the archdiocesan seminary, Inmaculada Concepción Seminary, in Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires City, and, after three years, entered the Society of Jesus as a novice on 11 March 1958.[42] Bergoglio has said that as a young seminarian, he “was dazzled by a girl I met at an uncle’s wedding”, so much so that he “could not pray for over a week” because he could not help thinking of her, and so he “had to rethink what I was doing”.[53] As a Jesuit novice he studied humanities in Santiago, Chile.[54] 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.[55]

In 1960, Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel, Buenos Aires Province; in 1964 and 1965, he taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada, a high school in the Province of Santa Fe, Argentina, and in 1966 he taught the same courses at the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires City.[56]

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),[57] 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 formation as a Jesuit, tertianship, at Alcalá de Henares, Spain, and took his perpetual vows in the Society of Jesus on 22 April 1973.[58] He was named Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina on 31 July 1973 and served until 1979.[59] 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.[60] Before taking up this new appointment, he spent the first three months of 1980 in Ireland to learn English, staying at the Jesuit Centre in the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin.[61] After returning to Argentina to take up his new post at San Miguel, Father Bergoglio served in that capacity until 1986. He spent several months at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany, while considering possible dissertation topics,[62] before returning to Argentina to serve as a confessor and spiritual director to the Jesuit community in Córdoba.[63] 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.[64][65][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 concelebrate Divine Liturgy with Czmil.[68]


Bergoglio was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and was ordained on 27 June 1992 as Titular Bishop of Auca,[69] with Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, serving as principal consecrator.[51] On 3 June 1997, Bergoglio was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires with right of automatic succession.[52] He chose as his episcopal motto Miserando atque eligendo.[70] It is drawn from Bede‘s homily on Matthew 9:9–13: “because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him”.[71]

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.[72] 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.[73]

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.[74]

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.[51] Archbishop 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.[68]

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 military dictatorship in 1972, and he defended Podestá’s wife from Vatican attacks on their marriage.[75][76][77] 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, the years known as the Dirty War.[78]

Bergoglio made it his custom to celebrate the Holy Thursday ritual washing of feet ina jail, a hospital, a home for the elderly or with poor people”.[79] One year he washed the feet of newborn children and pregnant women.[80] In his first Holy Thursday as pope, Francis continued this custom, visiting a jail in Rome where he washed the feet of twelve inmates aged 14 to 21, among them two women; the first woman was a Serbian Muslim, the second was an Italian Catholic.[81]

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.[82][83] It was celebrated weekly.[84]

On 8 November 2005, Bergoglio was elected president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–08).[85] He was reelected to another three-year term on 11 November 2008.[86] 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.[51]

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.[87]

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.[88]


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. 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.[39]

As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to five administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He was 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.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2008

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,[89] and, according to the Catholic Herald, created “a favourable impression as a man open to communion and dialogue”.[90][91]

Cardinal Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice.[92] 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.[93] He limited his time in Rome to “lightning visits”.[94] He was known to have a unique devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, and he enclosed a small picture of her in the letters he wrote, calling her “a great missionary saint.”[95]

On the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio attended his funeral and was considered one of the papabile for succession to the papacy.[96] 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.[92][97] 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.[98][99] The claims were based on a diary purportedly belonging to an anonymous cardinal who had been present at the conclave.[98][100] According to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, this number of votes had no precedents for a Latin American papabile.[100] 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.[101] According to Tornielli, Bergoglio made this request to prevent the conclave from delaying too much in the election of a pope.[102]

As a cardinal, Bergoglio was associated with Communion and Liberation, a Catholic evangelical lay movement of the type known as associations of the faithful.[92][103] He sometimes made appearances at the annual gathering known as the Rimini Meeting held during the late summer months in Italy.[92]

In 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio authorized the request for beatification—the first step towards sainthoodfor six members of the Pallottine community murdered in 1976.[104][105] At the same time, Bergoglio ordered an investigation into the murders themselves, which had been widely blamed on the military regime that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.[105]

Relations with Argentine governments

Dirty War

Bergoglio was the subject of allegations regarding the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests during Argentina’s “Dirty War“.[106][107] 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.[108] In 2005, 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.[109] 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.[106] The priests, Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalics, had been tortured,[110] 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 regime 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”.[111] Jalics initially refused to discuss the complaint after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.[112] 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.[113] 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.”[114][115]

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.[116] In 2010, Bergoglio told Sergio 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.[110] The interview with Rubin, reflected in the biography El jesuita, is the only time Bergoglio has spoken to the press about those events.[117] Alicia Oliveira, a former Argentine Judge, has also reported that Bergoglio helped people flee Argentina during the military regime.[118] Since Francis became Pope, Gonzalo Mosca[119] and José Caravias[120] 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”.[121] 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.”[111] Artist and human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980, 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.”[122][123] 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 Clarín: “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.”[124] Ricardo Lorenzetti, President of the Argentine Supreme Court, also has said that Bergoglio is “completely innocent” of the accusations.[125]

Fernando de la Rúa

Fernando de la Rúa replaced Carlos Menem as president of Argentina in 1999. As an archbishop, Bergoglio celebrated the annual Mass at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral on the First National Government holiday, 25 May. In 2000, Bergoglio criticized the perceived apathy of society.[126] During police repression of the riots of December 2001, he contacted the Ministry of the Interior and asked that the police distinguish rioters engaged in acts of vandalism from peaceful protesters.[127]


Pope Francis with Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

When Bergoglio celebrated Mass at the Cathedral for the 2004 First National Government holiday, President Néstor Kirchner attended and heard Bergoglio request more political dialogue, reject intolerance, and criticize exhibitionism and strident announcements.[128] Kirchner celebrated the national day elsewhere the following year and the Mass in the Cathedral was suspended.[129] Kirchner considered Bergoglio as a political rival to the day he died in October 2010.[130] Bergoglio’s relations with Kirchner’s widow and successor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, have been similarly tense. In 2008, Bergoglio called for national reconciliation during disturbances in the country’s agricultural regions, which the government interpreted as a support for anti-government demonstrators.[130] The campaign to enact same-sex marriage legislation was a particularly tense period in their relations.[130]

In 2006, Bergoglio publicly opposed an attempt by the Argentine government to legalize some cases of abortion.[131] In 2007, after the government intervened to allow an abortion for a mentally handicapped woman who had been raped, Bergoglio compared the abortion with a death penalty over the unborn child.[132] The Kirchner administration said in response that the social concerns of the Church were correct, but that relating them to abortion and euthanasia would be unjustified.[132][d]

When Bergoglio was elected Pope, the initial reactions were mixed. Most of the Argentine society cheered it, but the pro-government newspaper Página 12 published renewed allegations about the dirty war, and the president of the National Library described a global conspiracy theory. The president took more than an hour to congratulate him, and only did so in a passing-by reference inside a routine speech. However, as the Pope was a huge positive image in his country, Cristina Kirchner made a Copernican shift in her relation with him, and fully embraced the Francis phenomenon.[134] On the day before his inauguration as pope, Bergoglio, now Francis, had a private meeting with Kirchner. They exchanged gifts and lunched together. This was the new pope’s first meeting with a head of state, and there was speculation that the two were mending their relations.[135][136]

Relations with religious communities and others

Interfaith dialogue

Bergoglio has written about his commitment to open and respectful interfaith dialogue as a way for all parties engaged in that dialogue to learn from one another.[137] In the 2011 book that records his conversations with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, On Heaven and Earth, Bergoglio said:

Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person’s point of view, opinion, and proposal. To dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defenses, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth.[137]

Religious leaders in Buenos Aires have mentioned that Bergoglio promoted interfaith ceremonies at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral.[138] For example, in November 2012 he brought leaders of the Jewish, Muslim, evangelical, and Orthodox Christian faiths together to pray for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflicts.[138] Rabbi Alejandro Avruj praised Bergoglio’s interest in interfaith dialogue, and his commitment to mend religious divisions.[138]

Shortly after his election, the pope called for more interreligious dialogue as a way of “building bridges” and establishing “true links of friendship between all people”.[139] He added that it was crucial “to intensify outreach to nonbelievers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail”.[139] He said that his title of “pontiff” means “builder of bridges”, and that it was his wish that “the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced.”[139]

Eastern Orthodox Church

Bergoglio is recognized for his efforts “to further close the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with the Orthodox Churches“.[140] Antoni Sevruk, rector of the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr in Rome, said that Bergoglio “often visited Orthodox services in the Russian Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral in Buenos Aires” and is known as an advocate on behalf the Orthodox Church in dealing with Argentina’s government.[141]

Bergoglio’s positive relationship with the Eastern Orthodox Churches is reflected in the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople attended his installation.[142] This is the first time since the Great Schism of 1054 that the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, a position considered first among equals in the Eastern Orthodox Church organization, has attended a papal installation.[143] Orthodox leaders state that Bartholomew’s decision to attend the ceremony shows that the relationship between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches is a priority of his, but they also note that Francis’s “well-documented work for social justice and his insistence that globalization is detrimental to the poor” may have created a “renewed opportunity” for the two Church communities to “work collectively on issues of mutual concern”.[142][e]


Gregory Venables, Anglican Bishop of Argentina, said that Cardinal Bergoglio had told him very clearly that the Personal Ordinariate(s) (the branch of the Catholic Church set up for defecting Anglicans) was “quite unnecessary”, and that the Catholic Church needed Anglicans as Anglicans. A spokesman for the Ordinariate said the words were those of Venables, not the Pope.[145]

Mark Hanson, then presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), greeted the news of Bergoglio’s election with a public statement that praised his work with Lutherans in Argentina.[146]

Evangelical leaders including Argentine Luis Palau, who moved to the US in his twenties, have welcomed the news of Bergoglio’s election as Pope based on his relations with Evangelical Protestants, noting that Bergoglio’s financial manager for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires was an Evangelical Christian whom Bergoglio refers to as a friend.[147] Palau recounts how Bergoglio would not only relax and “drink mate” with that friend, but would also read the Bible and pray with him, based on what Bergoglio called a relationship of friendship and trust.[147] Palau describes Bergoglio’s approach to relationships with Evangelicals as one of “building bridges and showing respect, knowing the differences, but majoring on what we can agree on: on the divinity of Jesus, his virgin birth, his resurrection, the second coming.”[147] As a result of Bergoglio’s election, Palau predicts that “tensions will be eased.”[147]

Juan Pablo Bongarrá, president of the Argentine Bible Society, recounts that Bergoglio not only met with Evangelicals, and prayed with them—but he also asked them to pray for him.[148] Bongarrá notes that Bergoglio would frequently end a conversation with the request, “Pastor, pray for me.”[148] Additionally, Bongarrá tells the story of a weekly worship meeting of charismatic pastors in Buenos Aires, which Bergoglio attended: “He mounted the platform and called for pastors to pray for him. He knelt in front of nearly 6,000 people, and [the Protestant leaders there] laid hands and prayed.”[148]

Other Evangelical leaders agree that Bergoglio’s relationships in Argentina make him “situated to better understand Protestantism”.[149] Noting that the divide between Catholicism and Protestantism is often present among members of the same families in Argentina, and is therefore an extremely important human issue, “Francis could set the tone for more compassionate conversations among families about the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism.”[149]


Bergoglio has close ties to the Jewish community of Argentina, and attended Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) services in 2007 at a synagogue in Buenos Aires. He told the Jewish congregation during his visit that he went to the synagogue to examine his heart, “like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers”.[150] After the 1994 AMIA bombing of a Jewish Community Center there that killed 85 people, Bergoglio was the first public figure to sign a petition condemning the attack and calling for justice. Jewish community leaders around the world noted that his words and actions “showed solidarity with the Jewish community” in the aftermath of this attack.[150]

A former head of the World Jewish Congress, Israel Singer, reported that he worked with Bergoglio in the early 2000s, distributing aid to the poor as part of a joint Jewish-Catholic program called “Tzedaká“. Singer noted that he was impressed with Bergoglio’s modesty, remembering that “if everyone sat in chairs with handles [arms], he would sit in the one without.”[150] Bergoglio also co-hosted a Kristallnacht memorial ceremony at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral in 2012,[150] and joined a group of clerics from a number of different religions to light candles in a 2012 synagogue ceremony on the occasion of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.[151]

Abraham Skorka, the rector of the Latin-American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, and Bergoglio published their conversations on religious and philosophical subjects as Sobre el cielo y la tierra (On Heaven and Earth).[152] An editorial in Israel‘s Jerusalem Post notes that “Unlike John Paul II, who as a child had positive memories of the Jews of his native Poland but due to the Holocaust had no Jewish community to interact with in Poland as an adult, Pope Francis has maintained a sustained and very positive relationship with a living, breathing [Jewish] community in Buenos Aires.”[152]

One of the pope’s first official actions was writing a letter to Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, inviting him to the papal installation and sharing his hope of collaboration between the Catholic and Jewish communities.[153] Addressing representatives of Jewish organizations and communities, Francis said that, “due to our common roots [a] Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!”[154][155]


Leaders of the Islamic community in Buenos Aires welcomed the news of Bergoglio’s election as pope, noting that he “always showed himself as a friend of the Islamic community”, and a person whose position is “pro-dialogue”.[156] They praised Bergoglio’s close ties with the Islamic community and noted his comments when Pope Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg lecture was interpreted by many as denigrating Islam. According to them, Bergoglio immediately distanced himself from Benedict’s language and said that statements that create outrage within the Islamic community “will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last 20 years.”[157]

Bergoglio visited both a mosque and an Islamic school in Argentina, visits that Sheik Mohsen Ali, the Director for the Diffusion of Islam, called actions that strengthened the relationship between the Catholic and Islamic communities.[156] Dr. Sumer Noufouri, Secretary General of the Islamic Center of the Argentine Republic (CIRA), added that Bergoglio’s past actions make his election as pope a cause within the Islamic community of “joy and expectation of strengthening dialogue between religions”.[156] Noufouri said that the relationship between CIRA and Bergoglio over the course of a decade had helped to build up Christian-Muslim dialogue in a way that was “really significant in the history of monotheistic relations in Argentina”.[156]

Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar and president of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, sent congratulations after the pope’s election.[158] Al-Tayeb had “broken off relations with the Vatican” during Benedict XVI’s time as pope; his message of congratulations also included the request that “Islam asks for respect from the new pontiff”.[158]

Shortly after his election, in a meeting with ambassadors from the 180 countries accredited with the Holy See, Pope Francis called for more interreligious dialogue—”particularly with Islam”.[139] He also expressed gratitude that “so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world” had attended his installation Mass.[139] An editorial in the Saudi Arabian paper Saudi Gazette strongly welcomed the pope’s call for increased interfaith dialogue, stressing that while the pope was “reiterating a position he has always maintained”, his public call as pope for increased dialogue with Islam “comes as a whiff of fresh air at a time when much of the Western world is experiencing a nasty outbreak of Islamophobia“.[159]


Speaking to journalists and media employees on 16 March 2013, Pope Francis said he would bless them silently, “Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers”.[160] In his papal address on 20 March, he said the “attempt to eliminate God and the Divine from the horizon of humanity” resulted in violence, but described as well his feelings about nonbelievers: “[W]e also sense our closeness to all those men and women who, although not identifying themselves as followers of any religious tradition, are nonetheless searching for truth, goodness and beauty, the truth, goodness and beauty of God. They are our valued allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in safeguarding and caring for creation.”[161][162]

Some atheists expressed hope that Francis would prove to be progressive on issues like poverty and social inequality,[163] while others were more skeptical that he would be “interested in a partnership of equals”.[164] In May 2013, Francis said that all who do good can be redeemed through Jesus, including atheists. Francis stated that God “has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! … Even the atheists, Everyone!”[165] Later Thomas Rosica stated non-Catholics who “know” the Roman Catholic Church can get to Heaven only by converting to Catholicism. Outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins commented “Atheists go to heaven? Nope. Sorry world, infallible pope got it wrong. Vatican steps in with alacrity.” Author Neale Donald Walsch stated, “it was regrettable that the hidden hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church chose to officially retract the recent statement on eternal damnation bravely made by its new leader, Pope Francis.”[166]

Hendrik Hertzberg suggests in the The New Yorker magazine Rosica used weasel words and left imprecise how much a non-Catholic needs to know about Catholicism before according to Church doctrine that person is required to enter the Church or be damned. Further Rosica published his statement in Toronto through Zenit News Agency rather than through the Vatican or the Holy See. Hertzberg claims imprecision is deliberate and speculates that there may be major internal disagreement between supporters and opponents of Vatican II in the Catholic Church.[167]

In September 2013 Francis wrote an open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying—and this is the fundamental thing—that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”[168] According to Christianity including Roman Catholicism no human being can avoid doing wrong, see Romans 3:23.


As Cardinal
The gold star represents the Virgin Mary, the grape-like plant—the spikenard—is associated with Saint Joseph and the IHS emblem is the symbol of the Jesuits[169][170][171]

Elected at the age of 76, Francis is reported to be in good health, and his doctors have stated that his missing lung tissue (which was removed in 1957)[44] does not have a significant impact on his health.[172] The only concern would be decreased respiratory reserve if he had a respiratory infection.[173] In the past, one attack of sciatica in 2007 prevented him from attending a consistory and delayed his return to Argentina for several days.[94]

As pope, his manner is less formal than that of his predecessors: a style that news coverage has referred to as “no frills,” noting that it is “his common touch and accessibility that is proving the greatest inspiration.”[174] For example, on the night of his election, he took the bus back to his hotel with the cardinals, rather than be driven in the papal car.[175] The next day, he visited Cardinal Jorge María Mejía in the hospital and chatted with patients and staff.[176] At his first media audience, the Friday after his election, the Pope said of Saint Francis of Assisi: “The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man,” and he added “How I would like a poor Church, and for the poor”.[177]

In March 2013, a new song was dedicated to Francis and released in Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese and Italian, titled Come Puoi (“How You Can”).[174] Also in March, Pablo Buera, the mayor of La Plata, Argentina, announced that the city had renamed a section of a street leading up to a local cathedral Papa Francisco.[178] There are already efforts to name other streets after him, as well as a school where he studied as a child.[178]

In addition to his native Spanish, Francis is conversant in Latin (the official language of the Holy See), Italian (the official language of Vatican City and the “everyday language” of the Holy See), he understands the Piedmontese dialect and some Genoese,[179] German,[180] French,[181] Portuguese,[182] English,[183] and Ukrainian.[184] He is “most comfortable” in Spanish, but is also “completely fluent” in Italian.[185] As of May 2013, sales of papal souvenirs, a sign of popularity, were up.[186]

A proposal to create a commemorative coin as a tribute to Pope Francis was made in Argentina’s lower house on 28 November 2013. On the coins it would read, “Tribute from the Argentine People to Pope Francis.” beneath his face.[187]

Francis chose not to live in the official papal residence in the Apostolic Palace, but to remain in the Vatican guest house, in a suite in which he can receive visitors and hold meetings. He is the first pope since Pope Pius X to live outside the papal apartments.[188] Francis still appears at the window of the Apostolic Palace for the Sunday Angelus.[189]


Bergoglio was elected pope on 13 March 2013,[190][191] the second day of the 2013 papal conclave, taking the papal name Francis.[192] Francis was elected on the fifth ballot of the conclave.[193] The Habemus Papam was delivered by Cardinal protodeacon Jean-Louis Tauran.[194] Cardinal Christoph Schönborn later said that Bergoglio was elected following two supernatural signs, one in the conclave and hence confidential, and a Latin American couple of friends of Schönborn who whispered Bergoglio’s name in Schönborn’s ear; Schönborn commented “if these people say Bergoglio, that’s an indication of the Holy Spirit”.[195]

Francis appears to the public for the first time as pope, at the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, 13 March 2013.

Instead of accepting his cardinals’ congratulations while seated on the Papal throne, Francis received them standing, reportedly an immediate sign of a changing approach to formalities at the Vatican.[196][197] During his first appearance as pontiff on the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica, he wore a white cassock, not the red, ermine-trimmed mozzetta[196][198] used by the previous Popes.[199] He also wore the same iron pectoral cross that he had worn as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, rather than the gold one worn by his predecessors.[198]

After being elected and choosing his name, his first act was bestowing the Urbi et Orbi blessing to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Before blessing the pilgrims, he asked those in St. Peter’s Square to pray for his predecessor, pope emeritus Benedict XVI, and for himself.[200][201]

Francis among the people at St. Peter’s Square.


At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, and had done so because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor.[202][203][204] He explained that, as it was becoming clear during the conclave voting that he would be elected the new bishop of Rome, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor”, which had made Bergoglio think of the saint.[205][206] Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history.”[207]

This is the first time that a pope has been named Francis[f] and the first time since Pope Lando‘s 913–914 reign that a serving pope holds a name not used by a predecessor.[g]

Francis also said that some cardinal-electors had jokingly suggested to him that he should choose either “Adrian”, since Pope Adrian VI had been a reformer of the church, or “Clement” as “payback” to Pope Clement XIV, who had suppressed the Jesuit order.[210][211] In February 2014, it was reported that the pope would have chosen the pontifical name of “John XXIV” had he been elected in 2005. This would be in honour of Pope John XXIII. It was said that he told Cardinal Francesco Marchisano: “John, I would have called myself John, like the Good Pope; I would have been completely inspired by him”.[212]


Inauguration of Pope Francis, 19 March 2013. Behind is the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Seat of Wisdom, a personal gift to Pope Paul VI by the Brazilian President Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco in the 1960s.

Pope Francis held his Papal inauguration on 19 March 2013 in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. He celebrated Mass in the presence of various political and religious leaders from around the world.[213] In his homily Pope Francis focused on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the liturgical day on which the Mass was celebrated.[214]


On 16 March 2013, Pope Francis asked all those in senior positions of the Roman Curia to “provisionally continue” in office “until other provisions are made”.[215] He named Alfred Xuereb as his personal secretary.[216] On 6 April he named José Rodríguez Carballo as secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, a position that had been vacant for several months.[217] Francis abolished the bonuses paid to Vatican employees upon the election of a new pope, amounting to approximately several million Euros, opting instead to donate the money to charity.[218] He also abolished the €25,000 annual bonus paid to the cardinals serving on the Board of Supervisors for the Vatican bank.[219]

On 13 April 2013, he named a group of 8 cardinals to advise him and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus, including several known as critics of Vatican operations and only one member of the Curia.[220] They are Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican City State governorate; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa from Chile; Oswald Gracias from India; Reinhard Marx from Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; George Pell from Australia; Seán O’Malley from the United States; and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras. He appointed Bishop Marcello Semeraro secretary for the group and scheduled its first meeting for 1–3 October.[221]

Early issues

Map indicating countries visited by Francis as pope, as of March 2014

In March 2013, 21 British Catholic Peers and Members of Parliament from all parties asked Francis to allow married men in Great Britain to be ordained as priests, keeping celibacy as the rule for bishops, on the grounds that it is anomalous that married Anglican priests can be received into the Catholic Church and ordained as priests (by means of either the Pastoral Provision of 20 June 1980, or else via the 2009 Anglican ordinariate), but married Catholic men cannot do the same.[222]

Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, included a call in his 2013 Easter homily for the pope to visit Jerusalem.[223] Louis Raphael I, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, asked the pope to visit the “embattled Christian community” in Iraq.[224] President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner invited the pope to visit Argentina. Kirchner extended the invitation when she visited the Vatican before the pope’s inauguration, asking for his help in terms of “smoothing tensions with Britain over the Falkland Islands”.[225] Monsignor Michael McPartland, the Apostolic Prefect of the Falkland Islands, stated that “[Francis] must be seen as Pope first and where he comes from should not figure in the equation. But I would also like to think he would have a beneficial impact and perhaps be able to express some soothing words that would help the situation here.”[226] As of March 2014, Francis himself has not made any comment over the sovereignty dispute since becoming pope.[227]

On the first Holy Thursday following his election, Francis washed and kissed the feet of ten male and two female juvenile offenders, not all Catholic, aged from 14 to 21, imprisoned at Rome’s Casal del Marmo detention facility, telling them the ritual of foot washing is a sign that he is at their service.[228] He told them to “Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us.”[228] and “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope.”[229] According to church experts, this was the first time that a pope had included women in this ritual.[228] One of the male and one of the female offenders was Muslim.[229][230] Canon lawyer Edward Peters criticised the inclusion of women as a break with canon law, although not with any “divine directive”.[228]

Raymond Arroyo, EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network news director, said that it was clear that Francis was “intent on bringing the message of the church out to the world” and wanted priests to work “amid the people in the muck of life”.[231] Francis told priests on Holy Thursday that priests should be like shepherds who are so close to their flock that they “smell like their sheep”.[232]

On 31 March 2013 Francis used his first Easter homily to make a plea for peace throughout the world, specifically mentioning the Middle-East, Africa, and North and South Korea.[233] He also spoke out against those who give in to “easy gain” in a world filled with greed, and made a plea for humanity to become a better guardian of creation by protecting the environment.[233] He said that “We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”[234] Although the Vatican had prepared greetings in 65 languages, Francis chose not to read them.[185] According to the Vatican, the pope “at least for now, feels at ease using Italian, the everyday language of the Holy See”.[235]

On 15 April 2013 Francis reaffirmed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith‘s criticism of the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious.[236] He reinstated the “program of reform”, reaffirming the reprimand of American sisters (female religious) issued by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The New York Times reported that the Vatican had formed the opinion in 2012 that the sisters’ group was tinged with feminist influences, focused too much on ending social and economic injustice and not enough on stopping abortion, and permitted speakers at its meetings who questioned church doctrine.[237][238]

On 12 May Francis carried out his first canonizations, of candidates approved for sainthood during the reign of Benedict XVI: the first Colombian saint, Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena, the second female Mexican saint, Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, both of the 20th century, and the 813 15th-century Martyrs of Otranto. He said: “While we venerate the martyrs of Otrante, ask God to support the many Christians who still suffer from violence and give them the courage and fate and respond to evil with goodness.” He also commented on abortion, saying legislation should be introduced to “protect all human beings from the first moment of their existence.”[239]

He also called for a more “merciful” Church and less centralisation of decision making.[240]

Consultation with Catholic laity

A February 2014 survey by World Values Survey cited in the Washington Post and Time shows how the unity Pope Francis had created could be challenged. Although views about Francis personally were favorable, many Catholics disagreed with at least some of his teachings. The survey found that members of the Roman Catholic Church are deeply divided over abortion, contraception, divorce, the ordination of women and married men. [241][242]

In the same month Pope Francis asked parishes to provide answers to an official questionnaire described as a “much broader consultation than just a survey”[243] regarding opinions among the laity. He continued to assert Catholic doctrine, in less dramatic tone than his recent predecessors, who maintained that the Catholic Church is not a democracy of popular opinion.[244][245][246]

Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University writes of the survey Francis initiated, it’s not a survey in any sense that a social scientist would recognize.” Woodhead said that many ordinary Catholics would have difficulty understanding theological jargon there. Nonetheless, Woodhead suspected the survey might be influential.

But surveys are dangerous things. They raise expectations. And they play to people’s growing sense that they have voice and choice—even in a traditional Church. If it turns out that those voices are ignored or, worse, corralled more firmly into the existing sheepfold of moral teaching, the tension may reach a breaking point. Perhaps Francis is clever enough to have anticipated that, and perhaps he has subtle plans to turn such a crisis to good ends. Perhaps not.

—Linda Woodhead [247]

The Catholic Church in England and Wales as of April 2014 had refused to publish results of this survey; a Church spokesman said a senior Vatican official had expressly asked for summaries to remain confidential, and that orders had come from the Pope that the information should not be made public until after October. This disappointed many reformers who hoped the laity would be more involved in decision-making. Call to Action for example said, “People who had completed this “challenging” questionnaire would be saddened and perplexed if the results were withheld.” Some other Roman Catholic churches, for example in Germany and Austria published summaries of the responses to the survey, which showed a wide gap between Church teaching and the behaviour of ordinary Catholics.[243]

In a column he wrote for the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the head Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, US Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who has a long-standing reputation as one of the church’s most vocal conservative hard-liners, said that Pope Francis opposed both abortion and gay marriage.[248] The Vatican’s chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, also noted in the Vatican Press Office during the 2014 consistory meetings that Pope Francis and Cardinal Walter Kasper would not change or redefine any dogmas pertaining to Church theology on doctrinal matters.[249]

Institute for the Works of Religion

In the first months of Francis’s papacy, the Institute for the Works of Religion, informally known as the Vatican Bank, said that it would become more transparent in its financial dealings[250] There had long been allegations of corruption and money laundering connected with the bank.[251][252] Francis appointed a commission to advise him about reform of the Bank,[251][252] and the finance consulting firm Promontory Financial Group was assigned to carry out a comprehensive investigation of all customer contacts of the bank on these facts.[253] Because of this affair the Promoter of Justice at the Vatican Tribunal applied a letter rogatory for the first time in the history of the Republic of Italy at the beginning of August 2013.[254] In January 2014 Francis replaced four of the five cardinal overseers of the Vatican Bank, who had been confirmed in their positions in the final days of Benedict XVI’s papacy.[255] Lay experts and clerics were looking into how the bank was run. Ernst von Freyberg was put in charge. Moneyval feels more reform is needed.

But an Italian investigation into allegations of money laundering – which the bank denies – continues (…) Francis has made it clear that, if the bank cannot be adequately reformed, he would have no compunction about closing it for good.[256]

Papal documents

On June 29, 2013, Pope Francis published his first Encyclical titled Lumen Fidei.[257] On November 24, 2013, he published his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.[258]

Clerical titles

In January 2014 Pope Francis reduced the number of awards associated with the use of the title Monsignor from three to one, Chaplain to His Holiness. He announced that it would henceforth be awarded only to diocesan priests at least 65 years old. During his 15 years as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis had never asked that any of his priests receive the title, and was understood to associate the title with clerical “careerism”.[259]


At the first consistory of his papacy, held on February 22, 2014, Francis created 19 new cardinals. At the time of their elevation to that rank, 16 of these new cardinals were under eighty years of age and thus eligible to vote in a papal conclave.[260] The new appointees included 9 prelates from South America, Africa and Asia,[261] including appointees in some of the world’s poorest countries, such as Chibly Langlois from Haiti and Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso.[262] The consistory was a rare occasion where Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, made a joint public appearance.[262]


Francis on 20 March 2013

Francis told La Civiltà Cattolica that the church does not need to speak constantly of the issues of abortion, contraception and homosexuality. He thought that other issues, notably the duty to help those who are poor and marginalized, have been neglected. He said:

The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. … We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.

He added that the church had focused in trivial issues, and as such should not be so prone to condemn, and that priests should be more welcoming. He said the confessional should be used to motivate people to better themselves.[27][28][263][264]

Although many understand him to be liberalizing the papacy,[265][266] others point to the fact that no major progressive changes have occurred to the church during the first year of his service. Some, most notably Cafeteria Catholics continue to express hope and fervour that the Pontiff will change Catholic doctrine and theology in order to embrace a more worldly and openly tolerant vision of Catholicism regardless of certain biblical teachings.[256][not in citation given]

Rejecting worldliness

In both his first homily as pope and in his first address to the cardinals, Francis talked about walking in the presence of Jesus Christ and stressed the church mission to announce him. In the audience with the cardinals, he emphasized the concept of “encounter with Jesus”. Francis felt the Year of Faith should motivate pastors and believers to bring Jesus to people and to lead people to meet Jesus. Francis feels Jesus is present in the Roman Catholic Church and in every human being. Meeting Jesus brings Christian joy and renews people through grace.[267]

In his homily, he stressed the importance of professing Jesus Christ, contrasting it with “the worldliness of the devil”[268] The theme of rejecting “spiritual worldliness”, has been described as a leitmotif of his teachings even before he became pope.[269] Understanding this worldliness as selfishness, he said that it is a big danger for the Church.[270] Francis opposes the legalization of cannabis seeing that as part of pursuing idolatry.[271] Francis prefers to overcome the root causes of drug abuse through better education, greater justice and giving people hope for the future.[272]


His motto, Miserando atque eligendo, is about Jesus’ mercy towards sinners. The phrase is taken from a homily of St. Bede, who commented that Jesus “saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: ‘Follow me'” (italics added to refer to English translation of the Latin motto).[71] The motto is a reference to the moment when he found his vocation to the priesthood, at the age of 17. He started a day of student celebrations by going to confession.[273]

As cardinal he thought that people may only feel comfortable with God if they had encountered mercy. People that receive mercy would be more willing to treat others in a similar way. As a result, their moral code is modified. He described Christian morality is an “unjust” mercy, which means that a Christian may know the sins of someone else and treat him with mercy all the same.[274] The Gospel reading for the Sunday he was scheduled to give his first public address as pope was on Jesus’ forgiveness of the adulterous woman. This allowed him to discuss several ideas. For example, the principle that God never wearies of forgiving the human race, the significance of mercy, and to never tire in asking for forgiveness.[275]


Another theme Pope Francis emphasized in his first address to the cardinals is the approach to evangelization.[267] He talked about the significance of the Holy Spirit for it. It is a theme he has repeated in other occasions, specifically in his biography, where he spoke about pastoral reforms and making the Church closer to the people. He observed that the church may not attract people if they are forced to fit within complex structures and habits. He thought that the church should not regulate faith, but rather facilitate faith.[273]

He compared the “Aparecida” document with the Evangelii Nuntiandi exhortation. He pointed that the main idea of the document is to actively preach for society at large. He rejected the strong conservatism that follows documents to the letter, and encouraged a pragmatic approach instead. For instance, he proposed that if fewer people go to Mass, then the priests should find alternative ways to reach the people.[276]


Pope Francis with the U.S. President Barack Obama.

Pope Francis urged world leaders to prevent excessive monetary ambitions, which he said had become similar to an idolatry of money, and urged them to provide more welfare aid.[277] Dealing with the Great Recession, the pope criticized unbridled capitalism, considering that it judged human beings purely by their ability to consume goods and made people miserable.[278] He said that social inequality is caused by economic liberalism, and preferred economic systems with a higher intervention by the state.[279]

Francis said that the economic crisis happened because people accept the rule of money, and ethics are too frequently treated as inconvenient and disregarded.[279]

Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have begun a throw away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling.[280]

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel consulted Francis on 18 May 2013, and later the same day called for more stringent controls of financial markets.[281] Francis has referred many times to the Eurozone crisis that affect Greece and Roman Catholic Southern European nations.[186] Nevertheless, Pope Francis considers that starvation and homeless people are bigger problems than the financial crises.[281] George Haley of New Haven University said that Francis thinks that capitalism should reduce income disparity, and proposed that he used the diplomatic influence of the Vatican to suggest changes in national economies.[282] Rohit Arora is concerned that Francis has not come up with any specific way to solve income inequality and believes if the pope is serious he should do so. Joseph Pastore believes the wealth of the Catholic Church prevents Francis from taking a polarizing position and is unsure how far Francis can reform the Church.[282]

Pope Francis denounced the “autonomy of the marketplace” and “financial speculation” as tyranny in his 84-page apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. … A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which has taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.[283][284]

Pope Francis’ views were called Marxist by Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives as a result of his critique of capitalism with absolute market autonomy.[285] Pope Francis responded that “Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended … there is nothing in the exhortation that cannot be found in the social doctrine of the church.”[285]


At a meeting of Latin American bishops in 2007, Bergoglio said that, despite its growth, poverty had not been reduced, and asked for a better income distribution.[286] On 30 September 2009, Bergoglio spoke at a conference organized by the Argentina City Postgraduate School (EPOCA) at the Alvear Palace Hotel in which he quoted the 1992 “Documento de Santo Domingo”[287] by the Latin American Episcopal Conference, saying “extreme poverty and unjust economic structures that cause great inequalities” are violations of human rights.[288][289] He went on to describe social debt as “immoral, unjust and illegitimate”.[290]

During a 48-hour public servant strike in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio criticized unequal treatment of the judiciary to poor and rich people.[291] In 2002, during an economic crisis, Bergoglio harshly criticized those in power, saying, “Let’s not tolerate the sad spectacle of those who no longer know how to lie and contradict themselves to hold onto their privileges, their rapaciousness, and their ill-earned wealth.”[292] During a May 2010 Mass celebrated by twenty bishops commemorating the Argentina Bicentennial in front of the basilica of Luján, an important Catholic institution and destination of pilgrimage, Bergoglio criticised the reduced social concern over poverty, and exhorted Catholics to ask the Virgin of Luján to “take care of our motherland, particularly those who are most forgotten”.[293] In line with the Catholic Church’s efforts to care for AIDS victims, in 2001 he visited a hospice where he washed and kissed the feet of twelve AIDS patients.[286]

In 2011 Bergoglio compared forced labor with slavery.[294] As Pope Francis he spoke out in similar terms over the collapse of Rana Plaza garment factory in April 2013, which killed over a thousand people, and condemned the low pay workers received. He stated:

A headline that really struck me on the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh was ‘Living on 38 euros a month’. That is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labour. Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us – the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation! Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God![295][296][297]

Francis has called for sympathy for refugees, displaced persons and victims of human trafficking. He said that such people require special pastoral care to help them to integrate into the host society.[298]

Shortly after his accession, it was said that

Francis is hard to pigeonhole as a “conservative” or “liberal” when it comes to politics or economics, partly because he has written so little compared to his predecessors. He comes from a country that is “corporatist, mercantilist and almost fascist,” Father Sirico says, but although he feels the Pope will veer towards supporting the welfare state, he also has a “rich understanding of the importance of work and paying one’s bills.”[299]

In his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, he criticized the “widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs” and called on nations to narrow the wealth gap.[300]

Impoverished migrants

The first pastoral visit outside Rome that Francis made was to the Italian island of Lampedusa where many illegal Muslim immigrants land. Some are refugees, others are economic migrants. Francis threw a wreath into the sea as a memorial to those drowned attempting to get to Europe and said that these deaths thorned his heart. The Pope stated, “We have lost a sense of brotherly responsibility,” and “have forgotten how to cry” for migrants who die on the journey, also “We have become used to other people’s suffering, it doesn’t concern us, it doesn’t interest us, it’s none of our business!”. The pope also condemned people traffickers who profit from carrying desperate migrants in unsafe boats.[301]


Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has been a vocal opponent of both the practice and legality of abortion. In March 2013, shortly after his election to the papacy, Francis sent a letter to bishops in his native Argentina, asking them to use the Aparecida document to deny communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.[302][303] In May 2013, Francis unexpectedly participated in Italy’s pro-life march in Rome, asking its participants to protect human life “from the moment of conception”.[304] Also, as the mostly Catholic country of Ireland was preparing legislation to legalize abortion, Francis sent a message to the Irish asking them to protect the lives of both the unborn and the vulnerable people.[304] Also in May 2013, during a Wednesday audience Francis officially blessed the pro-life march in Szczecin, Poland, one of Europe’s largest pro-life events and, speaking in Italian, encouraged the Poles to defend the unborn. He mantained that human life should be respected all the way from conception to the natural death.[305]

At a September 2013 meeting with Catholic gynecologists, Francis condemned abortion saying that: “Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.”[306]

Food waste and starvation

Pope Francis believes wasting food is like stealing from the hungry people. He said:

This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times we are no longer able to give a just value. Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry.[307]

Pope Francis said he feels it is scandalous that in the 21st century people are still suffering and dying of starvation and calls on the FAO to ensure that adequate food reaches everybody, that food resources are adequate but food is distributed unequally. He requested more proactive international activity to reduce poverty, and thought that the international crises should not be used as an alibi.[308]

Liberation theology

Roberto Bosca at the University of Astral in Buenos Aires says that Pope Francis is to some extent sympathetic towards Liberation theology: “Despite Bergoglio’s reputation as an opponent of liberation theology during the 1970s, Bosca insists that wasn’t actually the case. He said Bergoglio accepted the premise of liberation theology, especially the option for the poor, but in a ‘nonideological’ fashion.”[309]

Leonardo Boff says the label of a closed-minded conservative doesn’t fit Francis. Others appreciate that the new pope ministered frequently in slums, and that his writings do not see social action as heretical.[310]

Boff said,

With this pope, a Jesuit and a pope from the Third World, we can breathe happiness. Pope Francis has both the vigor and tenderness that we need to create a new spiritual world. Pope Francis comes with the perspective that many of us in Latin America share. In our churches we do not just discuss theological theories, like in European churches. Our churches work together to support universal causes, causes like human rights, from the perspective of the poor, the destiny of humanity that is suffering, services for people living on the margins.[310][311]

Rachel Donadio of the New York Times wrote,

Francis’ speeches clearly draw on the themes of liberation theology, a movement that seeks to use the teachings of the Gospel to help free people from poverty and that has been particularly strong in his native Latin America. … Francis studied with an Argentine Jesuit priest who was a proponent of liberation theology, and Father Lombardi acknowledged the echoes. “But what is clear is that he was always against the strains of liberation theology that had an ideological Marxist element,” he said.[312]

Others think that Francis is more conservative. Consortium News claims Francis has a traditional, limited approach to helping poor people and is uneasy about Liberation theology: “The new pope has not been comfortable with liberation theology. It is possible to speak on behalf of the poor without supporting the real fundamental changes that are present with liberation theology.”[313] and that “Bergoglio’s approach fits with the Church’s attitude for centuries, to give ‘charity’ to the poor while doing little to change their cruel circumstances—as Church grandees hobnob with the rich and powerful.”[314]

Author Matthew Fox wrote in an article in Tikkun magazine that Bergoglio “fought liberation theology tooth and nail as head of the bishops’ conference and he was an effective instigator of papal attitudes in this regard (the CIA under Reagan linked up with Pope John Paul II to kill liberation theology…).”[315]

According to Sandro Magister, Pope Francis is more concerned about militant secularism than liberation theology. Magister said that Francis cared about the global spread of concepts including easy legal abortion and gay marriage, which Francis sees as the work of the devil and the Antichrist. Magister said that the aims of liberation theology are less important for Francis than fighting secularism.[316]

In September 2013, after Pope Francis met with Gustavo Gutiérrez, a pioneer of liberation theology, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published an essay stating that with the election of the first pope from Latin America, liberation theology could no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.”[317]

Position of women

Francis spoke out often about the “fundamental importance” of women in the Roman Catholic Church, stressing that they have a special role in spreading the faith, and that they were the “first witnesses” of the resurrection of Jesus.[318][319]

Women and clericalism

Francis has addressed the subject of women in the church a number of times.[320] Like Benedict XVI and John Paul II before him, he views women in the Church as “special” and fundamentally different from men. Without women, the Church “would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness.” Despite this, in the opinion of Francis, all people in the Church should follow the teachings of the Magisterium given by the men who are pope and bishops faithfully and obediently remaining loyal to the catechism.[321]

Francis would like women to lead more in administration and pastoral activities but has ruled out the possibility of female priests, saying that:

As far as the ordination of women, the Church has already spoken out and the answer is no. John Paul II made the Church’s stance definitive. The door is closed. But let me tell you something, Our Lady was more important than the apostles, bishops, deacons and priests. Women play a role that’s more important than that of bishops, or priests. How? This is what we have to explain better publicly.[322]

Erin Saiz Hanna of the Women’s Ordination Conference, however, says that the Pontifical Biblical Commission had once concluded that there were no scriptural or theological problems with ordaining women. Hanna accused Francis of citing only precedents he personally favors:

Pope Francis’ cop-out rationale illustrates a very selective theology: to blame a previous pope for his stance on women priests, and then in the very same interview contradict his predecessors by acknowledging an open understanding for gay priests. … He could have quoted the Vatican’s own the [sic] Pontifical Biblical Commission that concluded in 1976 that there is no valid scriptural or theological reason for denying ordination to women.[323]

Cardinal Timothy Dolan thinks female cardinals are a theoretical possibility because cardinals do not need to be ordained.[324] Despite this female cardinals were ruled out in December 2013, when Francis said, “Women in the Church must be valued, not ‘clericalized’. Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.”[324]

By contrast award winning journalist, Angela Bonavoglia [325] claims a Papal Commission found no scriptural objection to women’s ordination. Bonavoglia notes that Paul refers to Junia the Apostle and Phoebe the deacon and claims archaeological evidence for women clerics in the early church.

If you [Pope Francis’] believe that advocating for a woman cardinal smacks of “clericalism,” then what does an all-powerful, all-male college of cardinals smack of? If you are against clericalism, then dismantle it. If you are not, then end the church’s indefensible gender apartheid and open the doors of sacramental and executive power to women.[326]

Unwed mothers

In criticizing the priests who refused to baptize children born to unmarried women, Cardinal Bergoglio argued that the mothers had done the right thing by giving life to the child and should not be shunned by the church:[327][328][329]

In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptized!


Francis believes clergy should be shepherds looking after the people, but knows that clerics can be tempted and corrupted by power. When the clergy take from the people instead of giving, simony and other corruption can follow. Love between the clergy and the people is destroyed.[330] Francis fears some clerics “become wolves and not shepherds”. He criticized “spiritual worldliness”, which can be defined as deceitfully trying to appear holy and said that “Careerism and the search for a promotion [to the hierarchy] come under the category of spiritual worldliness.” Francis gave an example of clerical vanity, “Look at the peacock; it’s beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth … Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.”[331] Francis believes bishops and priests should resist the temptations of money, “careerism” and “vanity”.[332]

In September 2013, Pope Francis approved the excommunication of Australian priest Greg Reynolds, the first during his papacy. He was accused of heresy and sacrilegious treatment of the consecrated host. His public preaching contradicting church teaching was also referenced in the letter of excommunication. A letter sent by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart to the priests of his diocese cited his support for the ordination of women and “his public celebration of the Eucharist when he did not hold faculties to act publicly as a priest”. Reynolds said that his support of same sex marriage was also a factor, though not mentioned.[333]

Priestly celibacy

As a cardinal, Bergoglio’s views regarding the celibacy of priests were recorded in the book On Heaven and Earth, a record of conversations conducted with a Buenos Aires rabbi.[334] He commented that celibacy “is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change,” but added: “For the moment, I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons, because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures … Tradition has weight and validity.”[335] He noted that “in the Byzantine, Ukrainian, Russian, and Greek Catholic Churches … the priests can be married, but the bishops have to be celibate”.[335][h] He said that many of those in Western Catholicism who are pushing for more discussion about the issue do so from a position of “pragmatism”, based on a loss of manpower.[335] He states that “If, hypothetically, Western Catholicism were to review the issue of celibacy, I think it would do so for cultural reasons (as in the East), not so much as a universal option.”[335] He emphasized that, in the meantime, the rule must be strictly adhered to, and any priest who cannot obey it “has to leave the ministry”.[335]

The National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican analyst, Thomas Reese, also a Jesuit, called Bergoglio’s use of “conditional language” regarding the rule of celibacy “remarkable”.[334] He said that phrases like “for the moment” and “for now” are “not the kind of qualifications one normally hears when bishops and cardinals discuss celibacy.”[334]



During most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges against Church clergy surfaced; nor did he extend apologies and compensation to the victims of abusive priests after their misconduct came to light.[336] Later, Argentina was among 25% of bishops conferences that did not reach the deadline for putting policies in place to deal with complaints and priests accused of abuse.[337][338]

Pope Francis told Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who leads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and is the Vatican official in charge of dealing with the crisis, to act decisively, protect minors, help victims of past abuse and introduce unspecified “necessary procedures” against perpetrators who should be punished.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called for action instead of words.[339][340][341] Others, including Jeffrey Anderson, an attorney who fought many court cases on behalf of abuse victims, are hopeful that Francis will act to protect children.[337][342]

In October 2007, Bergoglio denounced the tolerance of child abuse, which he called “demographic terrorism”. He told a conference:[343]

Children are mistreated, and are not educated or fed. Many are made into prostitutes and exploited. And this happens here in Buenos Aires, in the great city of the south. Child prostitution is offered in some five star hotels: it is included in the entertainment menu, under the heading “Other”.

In 2011, Bergoglio again condemned child trafficking and sex slavery in Buenos Aires:

In this city, there are many girls who stop playing with dolls to enter the dump of a brothel because they were stolen, sold, betrayed … In this city, women and girls are kidnapped, and they are subjected to use and abuse of their body; they are destroyed in their dignity. The flesh that Jesus assumed and died for is worth less than the flesh of a pet. A dog is cared for better than these slaves of ours, who are kicked, who are broken.[294]

The Holy See under Francis failed to provide information about child sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church to a UN Committee, “The Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).[344] Keith Porteous Wood of the UK based National Secular Society said,

Pope Francis has already missed opportunities to assert his authority to reverse the church’s damaging policies over clerical abuse and unless he responds positively and quickly to the demands of the committee, he risks history judging his whole papacy a failure. Lawyers confirm that evidence abounds of the church at all levels continuing, even following the resignation of Pope Benedict, to do everything in its power to shield abusing Catholic clerics from justice and maintain secrecy, and do the least possible for victims.[345]


Pope Francis described child labour as a plague which prevents children getting a normal healthy childhood; children should have time for play, study and growth. The pope said that many girls endured domestic labour in conditions comparable to slavery, and many endured abuse.[346] He had already spoken strongly in 2011, before his election, against the “structural slavery” of exploitation of the homeless children of Buenos Aires.[294]


Reports that Francis considered that the use of methods intended for contraception with the purpose of preventing disease might be permissible[347][348] were disputed by others who said he was “unwaveringly orthodox on matters of sexual morality”.[349] Before becoming Pope he opposed the free distribution of contraceptives when it was introduced by the Kirchner government.[350]


As bishop and Pope, Francis restated the Church’s teaching: that homosexual practice is intrinsically immoral, but that every homosexual person should be treated with respect and love (because temptation is not in and of itself sinful).[351][352] He opposes same-sex marriage; when Argentina was considering legalizing it in 2010, Bergoglio opposed the legislation,[353][354] calling it a “real and dire anthropological throwback”.[355] In July 2010, while the law was under consideration, he wrote a letter to Argentina’s cloistered nuns in which he said the Argentine family could be seriously harmed, its identity with father, mother, children was, Bergoglio felt at risk. Children would face discrimination and lose the development that a father and mother give and Bergoglio believed God wants.[353][356][357]

Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just its form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God … Let’s look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment… May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.

After L’Osservatore Romano reported this, several priests expressed their support for the law and one was defrocked.[358] Observers believe that the church’s opposition and Bergoglio’s language worked in favor of the law’s passage and that in response, Catholic officials adopted a more conciliatory tone in later debates on social issues such as parental surrogacy.[359][360]

Rubin, Bergoglio’s biographer, said that while taking a strong stand against same-sex marriage, Bergoglio raised the possibility in 2010 with his bishops in Argentina that they support the idea of civil unions as a compromise position.[361] According to one news report, “a majority of the bishops voted to overrule him”.[361] Miguel Woites, the director of the Catholic News Agency of Argentina, denied that Bergoglio ever made such a proposal,[362][363] but additional sources, including two Argentine journalists and two senior officials of the Argentine bishops conference, supported Rubin’s account.[364]

According to two gay rights activists, Marcelo Márquez and Andrés Albertsen, in private conversations with them, Bergoglio expressed support for the spiritual needs of “homosexual people” and willingness to support “measured actions” on their behalf.[361][365]

Discussing homosexuals (people in general and clergy), he said in July 2013 “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?”,[351] reminding people to seek and encourage obedience to God, echoing the sentiments of Saint Peter in Acts 10:34b-35, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone” who respects God and “does what is right is acceptable”.[366] These remarks have been seen as an encouraging change of tone from the papacy, so much so that the American LGBT magazine The Advocate named Pope Francis their Person of the Year for 2013.[367]

On 5 January 2014, the Vatican denied that the Pontiff supports gay unions.[368] In response to various Italian tabloid articles released in the media, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi cited that various media misinterpretations are “paradoxical” and manipulative in misusing Pope Francis’ words noted in response to children growing up in non-traditional families.[17][369]

Organized crime

Speaking a day after the beatification of Pino Puglisi, a priest killed on orders of the organized criminal syndicate Cosa Nostra (Sicilian mafia), Pope Francis condemned the Mafia. He called for prayer to God to convert the hearts of these people, to convert the men and women involved with the mafia to God. I think of the great pain suffered by men, women and even children, exploited by so many mafias,” Francis said, he condemned the mafia further for, “making them do work that makes them slaves, prostitution.”[370][371] David Willey of the BBC said that the Catholic Church had been accused in the past of an ambiguous relationship towards Cosa Nostra, the men who for decades controlled organized crime on Sicily, and that by beatifying Father Puglisi, the Church is making a strong stand against mafia crime—which has been protected by a code of silence.[372]

On March 21, 2014 Francis spoke at a meeting by Libera, a citizen organisation, the meeting showed the Roman Catholic Church opposes organised crime. Further the Church discards historic ties to mafia bosses who allege they are good Catholics. Francis spoke out against the Mafia telling them to convert or face consequences hereafter. He told Mafia bosses they have blood stained money and blood stained power which they cannot take with them after death. Previous popes were sometimes considered unwilling to censure Mafia bosses though John Paul II advised conversion for the guilty and two months later two churches in Rome were bombed amid widespread violence.[373][374]

Public image

Popular mainstream media frequently portray Pope Francis either as a progressive papal reformer or with liberal, moderate values. Western news outlets often seek to portray his message with a less-doctrinal tone of papacy in hopes of extrapolating his words to convey a more merciful and tolerant message.[375][265][266] In addition, various media outlets indicate, perhaps without basis, that the Pontiff would change Catholic doctrine as part of the reform on the Roman Curia.[376] In the news media, both faithful and non-believers often refer to ahoneymoon” phase in which the Pope has changed the tone on Catholic doctrines and supposedly initiated ecclesiastical reform in the Vatican, a position often publicly disputed and negated by Catholic priests and apologists.[377][378][379][380]

In December 2013, both Time and The Advocate magazines named the Pontiff as their Person of the Year in praise and hopes of reforming the Roman Curia while hoping to change the Catholic Church’s doctrine on various controversial issues.

In addition, GQ Esquire Magazine named him as the Best well-dressed man for 2013 for his simpler vestments often in tune with a modern simplistic design on sartorial fashion.

Rolling Stone magazine followed in January 2014 by making the Pontiff their featured front cover.[381][382]

The magazine Fortune also ranked Pope Francis as number #1 in their list of 50 greatest leaders.[383]

Titles and styles

Papal styles of
Pope Francis
Coat of arms of Franciscus.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father

The official style of the Pope in English is His Holiness Pope Francis; in Latin, Franciscus, Episcopus Romae. Holy Father is another honorific often used for popes.

His full title, rarely used, is:

His Holiness Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God.

The best-known title, that of “Pope”, does not appear in the official list of titles, but is commonly used in the titles of documents, and appears, in abbreviated form, in their signatures as “PP.” standing for Papa (Pope).[384][385][386][387][388]

It is customary when referring to popes to translate the regnal name into local languages. Thus he is Papa Franciscus in Latin (the official language of the Holy See), Papa Francesco in Italian (the language of the Vatican), Papa Francisco in his native Spanish, and Pope Francis in English.[389]

Coat of arms



  • Bergoglio, Jorge (1982). Meditaciones para religiosos [Meditations for the Religious] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Diego de Torres. OCLC 644781822. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (1992). Reflexiones en esperanza [Reflections of Hope] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Ediciones Universidad del Salvador. OCLC 36380521. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2003). Educar: exigencia y pasión: desafíos para educadores cristianos [To Educate: Exactingness and Passion: Challenges for Christian Educators] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN 9789505124572. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2003). Ponerse la patria al hombro: memoria y camino de esperanza [Putting the Motherland on One’s Shoulders: Memoir and Path of Hope] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN 9789505125111. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2005). La nación por construir: utopía, pensamiento y compromiso: VIII Jornada de Pastoral Social [The Nation to Be Built: Utopia, Thought, and Commitment] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN 9789505125463. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2006). Corrupción y pecado: algunas reflexiones en torno al tema de la corrupción [Corruption and Sin: Some Thoughts on Corruption] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN 9789505125722. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2006). Sobre la acusación de sí mismo [On Self-Accusation, (or from the Italian, Humility: The Road towards God)] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN 978-950-512-549-4. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2007). El verdadero poder es el servicio [True Power Is Service] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. OCLC 688511686. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2009). Seminario: las deudas sociales de nuestro tiempo: la deuda social según la doctrina de la iglesia [Seminar: the Social Debts of Our Time: Social Debt According to Church Doctrine] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: EPOCA-USAL. ISBN 9788493741235. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge; Skorka, Abraham (2010). Sobre el cielo y la tierra [On Heaven and Earth] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana. ISBN 9789500732932. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2010). Seminario Internacional: consenso para el desarrollo: reflexiones sobre solidaridad y desarrollo [International seminar: Consensus about Development: Reflexions on Solidarity and development] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: EPOCA. ISBN 9789875073524. 
  • Bergoglio, Jorge (2011). Nosotros como ciudadanos, nosotros como pueblo: hacia un bicentenario en justicia y solidaridad [Ourselves as Citizens, Ourselves as a People: towards a Bicentenary in Justice and Solidarity] (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Editorial Claretiana. ISBN 9789505127443. 


See also


  1. ^ Press reports have provided a variety of translations for the phrase. According to Vatican Radio: “Pope Francis has chosen the motto Miserando atque eligendo, meaning lowly but chosen; literally in Latin by having mercy, by choosing him. The motto is one Francis used as bishop. It is taken from the homilies of the Venerable Bede on Saint Matthew’s Gospel relating to his vocation: ‘Jesus saw the tax collector and by having mercy chose him as an apostle saying to him: Follow me.'”[1]
  2. ^ Pronunciation: [ˈxorxe ˈmaɾjo βerˈɣoɣljo] (Spanish), [berˈɡɔʎʎo] (Italian)
  3. ^ This devotion has since spread to Brazil; it “attracts people with small problems”.[66] Bergoglio had an image of Mary Untier of Knots inscribed on a chalice he presented to Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.[67]
  4. ^ The woman had been impregnated by a relative. A legal battle delayed the abortion, and once it was authorized, local medical officials deemed it dangerous to perform in the pregnancy’s fourth month. Argentina’s health minister, Gines Gonzalez Garcia, provided free air transportation for the woman and her mother to another city where the abortion was performed.[133]
  5. ^ One source says that the gospel was chanted in Greek during the pope’s inauguration Mass in recognition of Bartholomew’s historic attendance,[142] but the Vatican News Service paraphrased Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office as explaining that “[t]he Gospel will be proclaimed in Greek, as at the highest solemnities, to show that the universal Church is made up of the great traditions of the East and the West.” (emphasis added)[144]
  6. ^ On the day of his election, the Vatican clarified that his official papal name was “Francis”, not “Francis I”. A Vatican spokesman said that the name would become Francis I if and when there is a Francis II.[203][208]
  7. ^ Pope John Paul I, elected in 1978, took a new combination of already used names, in honor of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI.[209]
  8. ^ Both in the Eastern Catholic Churches and in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, married men can be ordained to the priesthood, but priests cannot marry after having been ordained. See Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 795


  1. ^ Veronica Scarisbrick (18 March 2013). “Pope Francis: “Miserando atque eligendo”…”. Vatican Radio. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  2. ^ The precise number of popes has been a matter for scholarly debate for centuries. John A. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary (1980) lists John Paul II (1978–2005) as the 264th pope, making Francis the 266th.
  3. ^ “Pope Francis was a nightclub bouncer | Sky News Australia”. Skynews.com.au. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Posted: 13 April 2013 6:12 pm EDT (13 April 2013). “Cardinal Walter Kasper Says Pope Francis Will Bring New Life To Vatican II”. Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Feiden, Douglas (13 March 2013). “Pope Francis, the new leader of the Catholic Church, praised by many for practicing what he preaches, his humble nature and his empathy for the poor”. New York Daily News. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Vallely, Paul (14 March 2013). “Pope Francis profile: Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a humble man who moved out of a palace into an apartment, cooks his own meals and travels by bus”. The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Povoledo, Elisabetta (22 March 2013). “Pope Appeals for More Interreligious Dialogue”. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  8. ^ EWTN: Threshold of Hope; 27 March 2014, Father Z: What does Prayer Really Say, Michael Voris: Saint Michael Apostolate Media
  9. ^ Willey, David (16 March 2013). “Pope Francis’ first moves hint at break with past, 16 March 2013”. BBC. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  10. ^ Holy Mass In The Parish Of St. Anna In The Vatican, 17 March 2013.
  11. ^ http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/29/19751976-pope-who-am-i-to-judge-gay-people?lite
  12. ^ “In West Hollywood, Pope Francis’ stand on gays is unimpressive”. Los Angeles Times. March 14, 2013. 
  13. ^ “Pope, after conservatives’ criticism, calls abortion “horrific. Reuters. 13 January 2014. 
  14. ^ “Meisner bestreitet Reformbedarf”. Deutschlandfunk. December 24, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  15. ^ http://www.romereports.com/pg155610-pope-s-mass-it-s-absurd-to-say-you-follow-christ-but-reject-the-church-en
  16. ^ Homily given on 30 January 2014, Casa Santa Martha. The text is a reiteration from Pope Paul VI who declared the dichotomy of believers who profess to be Catholic but reject the Catholic Church’s moral doctrine and validity of teaching authority.
  17. ^ a b Kington, Tom (January 5, 2014). “Vatican says pope’s comments on gay couples don’t mark policy change”. Los Angeles Times. 
  18. ^ http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-encouraged-malta-bishop-to-speak-out-against-gay-adoption-bill/
  19. ^ http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/katholische-kirche-meisner-bestreitet-reformbedarf.694.de.html?dram:article_id=272951
  20. ^ http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/12/card-meisner-cites-pope-francis-no-communion-for-divorced-remarried/
  21. ^ Aside from endorsing women’s ordination and celebrating illicit Masses, Father Greg Reynolds is accused by the Holy Office of desecrating the Eucharistic species by indirectly feeding such to a dog.
  22. ^ Thompson, Damian (September 27, 2013). “Excommunicated priest Greg Reynolds celebrated illicit Mass at which Communion was given to a dog”. The Telegraph (London). 
  23. ^ Horowitz, Alana (29 December 2013). “Pope Francis ‘Shocked’ By Gay Adoption Bill: Report”. Huffington Post. 
  24. ^ Time. 30 December 2013 http://world.time.com/2013/12/30/report-pope-francis-shocked-by-same-sex-adoption-proposal/ |url= missing title (help). 
  25. ^ “AFP: Pope Francis urges reform of papal powers”. Google.com. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  26. ^ “A Big Heart Open to God”. America Magazine. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  27. ^ a b “BBC News – Pope Francis: Church too focused on gays and abortion”. Bbc.co.uk. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control
  29. ^ Time. 25 September 2013 http://world.time.com/2013/09/25/pope-francis-excommunicates-priest-who-supports-womens-ordination-and-gays/?iid=gs-article-mostpop1 |url= missing title (help). 
  30. ^ Claudio Iván Remeseira: Pope Francis: A humble and outspoken man, and technically also Italian NBCLatino, 14 March 2013
  31. ^ Garrido, J. (16 March 2013). “Vida y trayectoria de Bergoglio en seis capítulos”. La Tercera. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  32. ^ “Vatican Web site, from L’Osservatore Romano, Year LXIII, number 12: biography of the Holy Father Francis”. Vatican.va. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  33. ^ “La Nación newspaper: … “Regina María Sívori, su mamá” …, 17 March 2013″. Lanacion.com.ar. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  34. ^ Stella, Gian Antonio (14 March 2013). “Tango e battesimo, fidanzata e vangelo l’alfabeto misto di Papa Francesco”. Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 14 March 2013. “Mio padre era di Portacomaro (Asti, ndr) e mia madre di Buenos Aires, con sangue piemontese e genovese” 
  35. ^ “Bergoglio Card. Jorge Mario, S.I.”. College of Cardinals Biographical notes. Vatican.va. 9 November 2011. Archived from the original on 14 March 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  36. ^ Rice-Oxley, Mark (13 March 2013). “Pope Francis: the humble pontiff with practical approach to poverty”. The Guardian (UK) (London). Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  37. ^ Donovan, Jeffrey (13 March 2013). “Argentina’s Cardinal Bergoglio Is Elected Pope Francis”. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  38. ^ Barney Henderson (14 March 2013). “Pope Francis elected leader of Catholic Church: latest”. The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  39. ^ a b “Jorge is against regimes. It is because of fascism that our father emigrated”. La Stampa. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  40. ^ “Falleció el hermano del Cardenal Bergoglio”. Perfil. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  41. ^ Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro (14 March 2013). “Pope Francis is a card-carrying San Lorenzo supporter”. 
  42. ^ a b c “Bergoglio, sobre todo ‘pastor’, tanguero y simpatizante de San Lorenzo”. Agencia Informativa Católica Argentina (in Spanish). 13 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  43. ^ Hutchinson, John (16 March 2013). “From fresh-faced schoolboy to leader of 1.2 billion Catholics: Charming images shed light on Pope Francis’ early life growing up in Buenos Aires”. Daily Mail (London). 
  44. ^ a b c “Jorge Bergoglio, un sacerdote jesuita de carrera” [Jorge Bergoglio, a career Jesuit priest]. La Nación (in Spanish). 13 March 2013. 
  45. ^ “Biography: who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”. News.va. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  46. ^ “Su etapa de laboratorista”. Clarín. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  47. ^ Lifschitz, Alejandro (13 March 2013). “Argentina’s pope a modest man focused on the poor”. Reuters. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  48. ^ Burke, Daniel (3 December 2013). “Pope: I was once a bar bouncer”. CNN. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  49. ^ Chua, Howard (11 December 2013). “TIME’s Person of the Year 2013 Pope Francis, The People’s Pope | TIME.com”. Poy.time.com. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
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External links

External media
White smoke after election
White smoke on YouTube
Habemus Papam on YouTube
First appearance and speech on YouTube
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Antonio Quarracino
Archbishop of Buenos Aires
Succeeded by
Mario Aurelio Poli
Preceded by
Benedict XVI
Pope of the Catholic Church
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Benedict XVI
Sovereign of the State of Vatican City