The first Pope of the Americas Jorge Mario Bergoglio hails from Argentina. The 76-year-old Jesuit Archbishop of Buenos Aires is a prominent figure throughout the continent, yet remains a simple pastor who is deeply loved by his diocese, throughout which he has travelled extensively on the underground and by bus during the 15 years of his episcopal ministry.
“My people are poor and I am one of them”, he has said more than once, explaining his decision to live in an apartment and cook his own supper. He has always advised his priests to show mercy and apostolic courage and to keep their doors open to everyone. The worst thing that could happen to the Church, he has said on various occasions, “is what de Lubac called spiritual worldliness”, which means, “being self-centred”. And when he speaks of social justice, he calls people first of all to pick up the Catechism, to rediscover the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. His project is simple: if you follow Christ, you understand that “trampling upon a person’s dignity is a serious sin”.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires Dec. 17, 1936. He earned a chemical technician’s diploma from his high school and entered the Jesuit novitiate in March 1958. As part of his Jesuit formation, he taught literature and psychology at Jesuit high schools in the mid-1960s, and he was ordained to the priesthood Dec. 13, 1969.
In 1973, he was appointed superior of the Jesuit province of Argentina. In 1992, Pope John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. He was promoted to coadjutor archbishop in 1997 and became head of the archdiocese in 1998; St. John Paul II named him to the College of Cardinals three years later.