- New pope is Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, who takes the name Pope Francis.
- Francis, 76, is the first non-European pope in the modern era, the first South American pope and the first Pope Francis.
Choosing the name Francis is powerful and ground-breaking, CNN Vatican expert John Allen says.
As noted earlier, this is the first Pope Francis. Also, the name parallels one of the most venerated figures in the Roman Catholic Church, St. Francis of Assisi.
Allen described the name of Pope Francis as “the most stunning” choice and “precedent shattering.”
“There are cornerstone figures in Catholicism” such as St. Francis, Allen said. Figures of such stature as St. Francis seem “irrepeatable – that there can be only one Francis,” Allen added.
He is 76, and is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church’s most conservative wing. He is a former archbishop of Buenos Aires.
He has clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.
“As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a new Bishop of Rome,” he said. “It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from faraway. But here I am. I would like to thank you for your embrace.”
He is known for his simplicity. He chose to live in an apartment rather that the archbishop’s palace, passed on a chauffeured limousine, took the bus to work and cooked his own meals. Francis has a reputation for being a voice for the poor.
Bergoglio shunned the papal limousine after his appearance on the balcony and chose to take a shuttle bus with other cardinals back to the Vatican residence where they are staying, for an evening meal.
The Jesuit order to which he belongs was founded in the 16th century to serve the pope. It is best known for its work in education and the intellectual prowess of its members.
Reserved and humble, Francis does not fit the profile of an active preacher that many cardinals had previously said they were seeking. He studied chemistry before joining the priesthood nearly a decade after losing a lung to respiratory illness.
His official biographer has said that Francis has both keen political instincts and self-effacing humility, and that he would encourage a kind of shoe-leather evangelism within the church. He is known to walk the streets of Buenos Aires to talk to the people.