Jorge Bergoglio

Jorge Bergoglio

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ (born December 17, 1936) is an Argentine Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He currently serves as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001.

Early life

infobox cardinalstyles
cardinal name=Jorge Bergoglio
See=Buenos Aires
Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, as one of the five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife. After studying at the seminary in Villa Devoto, he entered the Society of Jesus on March 11, 1958. Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel, and then taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada in Santa Fe, and the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 13, 1969 by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He was attending the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel, a seminary in San Miguel. Eventually, Bergoglio attained the position of novice master there and became professor of theology.

Impressed with his leadership skills, the Society of Jesus promoted Bergoglio and he served as provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979. He was later transferred in 1980 to become the rector of his seminary alma mater. He served in that capacity until 1986. He flew to Germany to complete his doctoral dissertation and returned to his homeland to serve as confessor and spiritual director in Córdoba.


Generally a rarity for a Jesuit in non-missionary countries, Bergoglio became Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires and was appointed to the titular see of historical Auca. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on June 27, 1992. When it was becoming clear that Antonio Quarracino would soon end his term in office, Bergoglio was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires on February 28, 1998. He effectively took over the duties of the ailing Cardinal Quarracino.

When Cardinal Quarracino departed from service, Bergoglio succeeded him on February 28, 1998. He was concurrently named ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina, who lacked their own prelate. Pope John Paul II summoned the newly named archbishop to the consistory of February 21, 2001 in Vatican City. There, the pope elevated Bergoglio with the papal honors of a cardinal. He was named to the titular church of Saint Robert Bellarmine.


As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to several administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He served on the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Congregation of Societies of Apostolic Life. Bergoglio became a member of the Commission on Latin American and the Family Council.

As Cardinal, Bergoglio has become known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle has contributed to his reputation for humility. He lives in a small apartment, rather than in the palatial bishop's residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and he reportedly cooks his own meals.

Bergoglio is an accomplished theologian who distanced himself from liberation theology early in his career. He is thought to be close to Comunione e Liberazione, a conservative lay movement. He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are gay. His doctrinal conservatism is tempered with compassion: he is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the feet of twelve AIDS patients.

Although he consistently preaches a message of compassion towards the poor, some observers have been disappointed that he does not place a greater emphasis on issues of social justice. Rather than articulating positions on matters of political economy, Bergoglio prefers to emphasize spirituality and holiness, believing that this will naturally lead to greater concern for the suffering of the poor. He has, however, voiced support for social programs, and publicly challenged free-market policies.

Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio was summoned to Vatican City to participate in the 2005 papal conclave as a cardinal elector. Although Bergoglio was considered "papabile" himself, the conclave selected Pope Benedict XVI. Earlier, he had participated in the funeral of Pope John Paul II and acted as a regent alongside the College of Cardinals, governing the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church during the interregnum sede vacante period.

During the 2005 Synod of Bishops, he was elected member of the Post-Synodal council. Catholic journalist John Allen reported that Bergoglio had been a frontrunner in the 2005 Conclave. An unauthorized diary of uncertain authenticity released in September 2005 [ (1)] further affirmed that Bergogolio was the runner-up and main challenger of Cardinal Ratzinger during the conclave. The purported diary of the anonymous cardinal claimed Bergoglio received 40 votes during the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive ballot.

On 2005-11-08 Bergoglio was elected President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–2008) by a large majority of the Argentine bishops, which according to reports confirms his local leadership and the international prestige earned by his alleged performance in the conclave.

Human Rights complaint

On 15 April 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Argentine cardinal Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the junta in 1976 to kidnap two Jesuit priests. So far, no hard evidence has been presented linking the cardinal to this crime. It is known that the cardinal was the superior figure in the Society of Jesus of Argentina during 1976 and had asked the two priests to leave their pastoral work following conflict within the Society over how to respond to the new military dictatorship, with some priests advocating a violent overthrow. Bergoglio's spokesman has flatly denied the allegations. []

The complaint was filed as the Roman Catholic Conclave prepared to convene to select a new pope, likely as a means of protesting Bergoglio's candidacy.

Other functions of Cardinal Bergoglio

*Member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
*Member of the Congregation for the Clergy.
*Member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
*Member of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

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