Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1936, the oldest of five children. His parents were Italian immigrants, and his father was an accountant for the Argentinian railways. Bergoglio earned a degree as a chemical technician but chose to enter the Society of Jesus in 1958 and began to study for the priesthood. In December of 1969 he was ordained a priest. On May 20, 1992, Pope John Paul II appointed him the Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires. In 1998 he succeeded Cardinal Quarracino as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and later, in 2001, Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal.
In 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio took part in the Conclave in which Pope Benedict XVI was elected, and it is well-known that Bergoglio was the runner-up in this election. While he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he began a missionary project which focused on communion and evangelization. He wanted to reevangelize Buenos Aires and he asked priests and lay people to work together. In addition to evangelization, they focused on helping the poor. Bergoglio has always been a strong supporter and defender of the poor, as well as a staunch defender of the Church’s traditional teachings.
“I have news of great joy! We have a pope.” These were the words announced as the newly-elected pope walked out on the balcony over St. Peter’s Square. Pope Francis was elected the 266th pope on March 13, 2013. He is the first non-European pope elected since the year 741, and he is the first member of the Jesuit order to become pope. The Argentinian cardinal chose the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, after his friend, Cardinal Hummes, embraced him in the conclave and said “Don’t forget the poor,” which immediately made him think of St. Francis, a man of poverty.
Since his election as pope, Pope Francis has written several documents, including an encyclical titled Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) and an Apostolic Exhortation called Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). Lumen Fidei is the third of a papal series on the three theological virtues, with the encyclicals on hope and love written by Pope Benedict XVI before his resignation. It discusses how faith can illuminate every aspect of our lives. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis exorts people in all stages of life, laity and clergy alike, to spread the gospel message. He discusses some of the challenges and says that love must be the motivation for every person.
In September of 2015, Pope Francis plans to visit the United States for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, first making stops in both Washington D.C. and New York as part of his U.S. visit. The World Meeting of Families was conceived by Pope Saint John Paul II, and the first meeting took place in Rome in 1994, the International Year of the Family. Since then, the World Meeting of Families has taken place every three years in various locations around the world. This is the first year it will be held in the United States.