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Pope Francis: From Argentina to the World
By
Christopher Heffron
Source: St. Anthony Messenger magazine
Published: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Click here to email! Email | Click here to print! Print | Size: A A |  
 

The sun had set over Vatican City on March 13 as the white smoke barreled out of the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, announcing the election of a new pope. The smoke eventually stopped, but the rain did not, and those crowded into St. Peter’s Square seemed unfazed. The anticipation could be felt: people danced, sang, waited.

Minutes later, clad in a simple, ivory-colored robe, the man once known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, emerged to greet the crowd—and the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide—as the new pope. For a moment he stood motionless, save the occasional wave to the 150,000 who came to meet him.

When the crowd quieted, Pope Francis, the 76-year-old Jesuit from Argentina, said, “Brothers and sisters, good evening. You all know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him. But here we are.”

Then, in an unprecedented move, the pope asked the crowd to pray for him. When that moment of silence ended, he invited Catholics on a journey with him—one of love, of prayer, and of brotherhood. The flock had a new shepherd.

A Rapid Rise
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936, to Italian immigrants. Studious throughout his young life, he studied at the University of Buenos Aires, receiving a master’s degree in chemistry. He began his religious training at the Jesuit seminary of Villa Devoto, entering the Society of Jesus in 1958. He attended the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel, earning a degree in philosophy and a doctorate in theology in Freiburg, Germany.

Bergoglio’s climb in the Catholic world was relatively swift. He was ordained in 1969 and served as Jesuit provincial from 1973 through 1979. In 1992, he was ordained auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. After becoming archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he was named a cardinal three years later.

Four years later, Bergoglio became the president of the bishops’ conference of Argentina—a position he held until 2011. But an even loftier position awaited him.

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