Pope Francis I, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio,[b] 17 December 1936 is the 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church Vatican II, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European pope since the Syrian Gregory III, who died in 741.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technologist and nightclub bouncer before beginning seminary studies.
He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina's provincial superior of the Society of Jesus. He was accused of handing two priests to the National Reorganization Process during the Dirty War, but the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. 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, and 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.
Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, emphasis on God's mercy, concern for the poor, and commitment to interfaith dialogue. He is credited with having a humble, 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 his predecessors. In addition, due to both his Jesuit and Ignatian aesthetic, he is known for favoring simpler vestments void of ornamentation, including refusing the traditional papal mozzetta cape upon his election, choosing silver instead of gold for his piscatory ring, and keeping the same pectoral cross he had as Cardinal. He maintains that the church should be more open and welcoming. He does not support unbridled capitalism, Marxism, or Marxist versions of liberation theology. Francis maintains the traditional views of the church regarding abortion, euthanasia, contraception, ordination of women, and priestly celibacy. He opposes consumerism, irresponsible development, and supports taking action on climate change, a focus of his papacy with the promulgation of Laudato si'. In international diplomacy, he helped to restore full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Pope Francis in Bethlehem, Palestine, 25 May 2014.
Bergoglio has written about his commitment to open and respectful interfaith dialogue as a way for all parties engaged in that dialogue to learn from one another. In the 2011 book that records his conversations with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, On Heaven and Earth, Bergoglio said:
Ecumenism with other Christians
In a notable interview with La Stampa, Pope Francis emphasized his commitment to ecumenism, stating: "For me, ecumenism is a priority. Today, we have the ecumenism of blood. In some countries they kill Christians because they wear a cross or have a Bible, and before killing them they don't ask if they're Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics or Orthodox. The blood is mixed." During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis addressed the attendees of the John 17 Movement gathering opining that "Division is the work of the Father of Lies" and that he "knows that Christians are disciples of Christ: that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals, or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic…he doesn’t care! They are Christians. And that blood (of martyrdom) unites. Today, dear brothers and sisters, we are living an 'ecumenism of blood'. This must encourage us to do what we are doing today: to pray, to dialogue together, to shorten the distance between us, to strengthen our bonds of brotherhood." During the 2016 Octave of Christian Unity, Pope Francis "asked forgiveness for the way Catholics had treated other Christian believers over the years, and also invited Catholics to pardon those who had persecuted them."
Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It assumes that there is room in the heart for the person's point of view, opinion, and proposal. Dialogue entails a cordial reception, not a prior condemnation. In order to dialogue it is necessary to know how to lower the defences, open the doors of the house, and offer human warmth.
Religious leaders in Buenos Aires have mentioned that Bergoglio promoted interfaith ceremonies at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. For example, in November 2012 he brought leaders of the Jewish, Muslim, Evangelical, and Orthodox Christian faiths together to pray for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflicts. Rabbi Alejandro Avruj praised Bergoglio's interest in interfaith dialogue and his commitment to mend religious divisions.
Shortly after his election, the pope called for more interreligious dialogue as a way of "building bridges" and establishing "true links of friendship between all people". He added that it was crucial "to intensify outreach to nonbelievers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail". He said that his title of "pontiff" means "builder of bridges", and that it was his wish that "the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced."
On 24 May 2014, Pope Francis arrived in Jordan, at the start of a tour of the Middle East, "aiming to boost ties with Muslims and Jews as well as easing an age-old rift within Christianity".
In a 2016 survey, Francis was viewed favourably by almost two thirds of Jews, as well as majorities of Protestants and the irreligious; minorities of Buddhists and Muslims had favourable views of him. However, notable that Traditional Catholic favour the former Pope Emeritus for his stance of the Tridentine Mass and his views than the current Pope.