Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires on 17 December 1936, the son of Italian migrants. His father was employed by the railways and his mother was a committed wife dedicated to raising their five children. He graduated as a chemical technician, then chose the path of the priesthood. In 1958 he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. He completed his studies in the humanities in Chile and returned to Argentina in 1963 to graduate with a degree in philosophy. From 1964 to 1966 he taught literature and psychology at two different colleges. 

On 13 December 1969, he was ordained a priest. In 1973 he made his final profession with the Jesuits. During the same year, he was appointed Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina, an office he held for six years. He then resumed his work in the university sector and from 1980 to 1986 served once again as Rector of the Colegio de San José, as well as parish priest, in San Miguel. After finishing his doctoral thesis in Germany, his superiors sent him back to Buenos Aires where he served as spiritual director in Cordoba for 18 years. On 28 February 1998, he became Archbishop of Argentina. Three years later, John Paul II created him cardinal. He asked the faithful not to come to Rome to celebrate his creation as cardinal but rather to donate to the poor what they would have spent on the journey. 

In 2002, in the spirit of poverty, he declined to be appointed President of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference, but three years later he was elected and then, in 2008, was reconfirmed for a further three-year mandate. Meanwhile, in April 2005, he took part in the Conclave in which Pope Benedict XVI was elected.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires he conceived a missionary project based on communion and evangelisation. He had four main goals: open and fraternal communities, an informed laity playing a leading role, evangelisation efforts addressed to every inhabitant of the city, and assistance to the poor and the sick. He aimed to re-evangelise Buenos Aires and asked priests and lay people to work together. In 2009, he launched the solidarity campaign for the bicentenary of the country’s independence, which saw 200 charitable agencies set up by 2016.

He was elected Supreme Pontiff on 13 March 2013.

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