Legal name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio; 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church, the bishop of Rome and sovereign of the Vatican City State. He is the first pope to be a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first born or raised outside Europe since the 8th century papacy of the Syrian Pope Gregory III.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked for a time as a bouncer and a janitor as a young man before training to be a chemist and working as a technician in a food science laboratory. After recovering from a severe illness of pneumonia and cysts, he was inspired to join the Jesuits in 1958. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was the Jesuit provincial superior in Argentina. 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 to be 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, 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 has made women full members of dicasteries in the Roman Curia. He maintains that the Catholic Church should be more sympathetic toward members of the LGBT community, has called for decriminalizing homosexuality, and expressed what has been described as "openness" to blessing same-sex unions. Francis is a critic of unbridled capitalism, consumerism, and overdevelopment; he advocates taking action on climate change, a focus of his papacy. Widely interpreted as denouncing the death penalty as intrinsically evil, he has termed it "an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person", "inadmissible", and committed the Church to its abolition, saying that there can be "no going back from this position".
In international diplomacy, Francis has criticized the rise of right-wing populism, helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, a deal with China to define how much influence the Communist Party has in appointing Chinese bishops, and has supported the cause of refugees during the European and Central American migrant crises, calling on the Western World to increase significantly immigration levels. In 2022, he apologized for the Church's role in the "cultural genocide" of the Canadian indigenous peoples. On October 4, 2023, Francis convened the beginnings of the Synod of Synodality, described as the culmination of his papacy and the most important event in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council.
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