Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is, as the bishop of Rome, the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a young man Bergoglio worked for a time as a bouncer and a janitor before getting training as a chemist, and working as a technician in a food science laboratory. After a recovering from a severe illness, he was inspired to join the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1958. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s provincial superior of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He became the archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina. The administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, emphasis on God’s mercy, international visibility as pope, concern for the poor and commitment to interreligious dialogue. He is credited with having a less formal approach to the papacy than his predecessors, for instance choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by previous popes.
Francis maintains the traditional views of the Church regarding abortion, clerical celibacy, and the ordination of women, but has initiated dialogue on the possibility of deaconesses and has made women full members of dicasteries in the Roman curia. He maintains that the Church should be more open and welcoming for members of the LGBT community, and favors legal recognition of same-sex couples. Francis is an outspoken critic of unbridled capitalism and free market economics, consumerism, and overdevelopment, and advocates taking action on climate change, a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si’. In international diplomacy, he helped to temporarily restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and supported the cause of refugees during the European and Central American migrant crises. Since 2018, he has been a heavily vocal opponent of neo-nationalism. He has faced criticism from theological conservatives on many questions, including admitting civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to communion with the publication of Amoris laetitia.
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