He he is one of the most popular and controversial popes in history, often breaking with conservative Catholic church traditions in his words and actions. Here are 15 things you didn’t know about Pope Francis.
Sources: BBC.com, Macleans.ca, CBSNews.com, FoxNews.com, Time.com, HuffingtonPost.com
Francis’s father, Mario José Bergoglio, and his family left Italy in 1929 to escape the fascist regime of Mussolini. Despite rumors that this may have been for economic reasons, Francis’s sister, María Elena, has emphatically denied that.
Francis had a multitude of jobs growing up – one of which was as a bouncer at a bar in Buenos Aires. He also spent time working as a janitor and as a chemical technician.
At the age of 21, Francis suffered from a severe case of pneumonia, as well as three cysts. He had to have part of one lung excised in the course of his treatment. Since he became pope, doctors have reassured the public that the missing lung tissue does not have a significant impact on his health.
Francis is known for his love of music, and has always shown a fondness for traditional Argentinian and Uruguayan music known as “milonga” – music that is perfect for tango dancing.
While studying at the Inmaculada Concepción Seminary in Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires, Pope Francis confessed to a crush on a girl he met at an uncle’s wedding. The crush made him doubt his path in religion, but he decided to stick to it.
After finishing his studies, Francis entered the Society of Jesus as a novice on March 11, 1958. More commonly known as the Jesuits, the Society of Jesus is a society within the Roman Catholic Church that was founded by Ignatius of Loyola and instituted by Pope Paul III. The Jesuit society demands four vows of its members: chastity, poverty, obedience to Christ, and obedience to the Pope. He officially became a Jesuit on March 12, 1960 and was ordained to the priesthood nine years later.
Along with being the first Jesuit pope, Pope Francis is also the first pope from the Americas, the first from the southern hemisphere, and the first non-European pope since the year 741, when Pope Gregory III from Syria became Pope.
Though Francis has made many overtures considered shockingly liberal for the Catholic Church, he continues to oppose abortion on all levels. In September 2013, he said, “Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.”
Shortly after his election and first papal audience, the new pope announced his decision to be the first pope to take the name Francis, after Saint Francis of Assisi. He admired the Saint’s commitment to the poor, saying, “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history.”
Rather than stay in the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace that all former popes in recent history have resided in, Pope Francis decided to live in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse at the Vatican. He lives in a suite where he can receive visitors and hold meetings, though he still appears in the window of the palace for Sunday Angelus.
Keeping in his commitment to shrinking the lavish luxuries of the papacy, Pope Francis abolished the bonuses paid to Vatican employees each time a new pope is elected. The money, amounting to several million Euros, was instead donated to charity.
Upon assuming the papacy, Pope Francis announced zero tolerance for sex abuse in the Catholic Church. He placed several bishops under investigation for child abuse, or for aiding cover-ups of sexual abuse, and met with groups of sex-abuse victims at the Vatican. Francis made his position clear, saying sex abuse is “as bad as performing a satanic mass.”
In addition to being fluent in Spanish, his native language in Argentina, Francis is also fluent in Latin and Italian. Furthermore, he understands and speaks some Genoese, German, French, Portuguese, English, Ukrainian, and some of the Piedmontese dialect.
Pope Francis was integral in the negotiation between the United States and Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations. He wrote letters to the presidents of both countries, and even hosted American and Cuban delegations at the Vatican to facilitate dialog. The pope’s direct appeal was uncommon for his position, but very effective.
Though it is rarely used, the official title of Pope Francis is as follows: His Holiness Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God.