Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, 76, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina was elected to the papacy today, March 13. Born on December 29, 1936, he speaks Spanish, Italian and German with ease and enjoys opera, according to Edward Cardinal Egan (retired). Reportedly, the new pope was the runner-up choice at the last conclave in 2005.
Cardinal Bergoglio chose the name Francis I just prior to being introduced to the crowd of thousands awaiting his appearance on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. He addressed the well wishers with enthusiasm. The new pope is the first non-European to serve in the papacy in over a millenium, and the first ever from the Americas. He is also the first Jesuit in that office.
The new pope chose the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, and is the first pope to bear that name. St. Francis was born wealthy. He put aside his wealth to found the Order of Franciscans. Several years prior to his death, he underwent the painful stigmata to experience the wounds Christ felt on the cross at Golgotha. St. Francis died two years later, was made a saint shortly after his death, and is today the patron saint of Italy. His sainthood is associated with kindness to animals and honoring nature and the earth itself.
The new pope is known for being humble. He embraces Church doctrine with a firm commitment to the poor and to social justice. He leads a simple life, even taking public transportation at times and cooking his own food.
While Archbishop, writing in a document known as the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America, then Cardinal Bergoglio wrote,
We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.
His papacy comes just in time for the Easter ceremonies at the Vatican. This is a busy time of year and a chance for millions to hear the new pontiff express his views during this solemn period.