The newest pope was elected by the papal conclave in Vatican City yesterday. The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the cardinal from Argentina and archbishop of Buenos Aires, marks the 266th pope to lead the Catholic Church.
Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis I, is the first pontiff to come from the Americas, making this a historical event in world history. He is also the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years. The election of Francis seemed to come as a shock to news stations covering the sudden event, as Bergoglio was not considered a front-runner to be chosen.
"To be honest, I never knew of him until now. But from what everyone is saying about him, he seems like he can be a good fit for the position," junior Jessica Goldberg said. "It is nice to see someone who dedicates his life to others like him."
Bergoglio is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1969, he was ordained into Jesuit priesthood at the age of 33. Bergoglio also attended a seminary in the area, soon becoming a professor of theology and novice master. Quickly moving through the ranks, Bergoglio was appointed to several different positions in Latin America and even completed his doctoral dissertation.
In 2001, Bergoglio was given one of the highest positions and honors in priesthood by being named a cardinal by late Pope John Paul II. Following the death of Pope John Paul, Bergoglio was an active member of the funeral processions and was a serious candidate for the vacant papal position in 2005.
The new Pope Francis may be unknown to most, but all that do know him praise his humility. It has been reported and confirmed by those who know him that the pope has chosen to live a life of poverty, which aptly represents his namesake St. Francis of Assisi, who was devoted to helping the poor. Most empowered bishops have near palaces, while Bergoglio chose to live in a small apartment. He also opted for city buses rather than a chauffeured limousine and even cooked his own dinners.
Pope Francis is a representative of the heart of Catholicism and of Latin America for the first time ever. After 450 years of Italian popes before John Paul and Benedict, Catholicism is finally outsourcing to where most of its spiritual followers lie–in the poor areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
There are over 1 billion practicing Catholics in the world, most of which come from areas in South America, Africa and Europe. According to BBC, the United States makes up a little more than 7 percent of the Catholic following.
Catholics are hoping that the new pope can breathe new life into the faith and fix any internal problems it currently faces.
"There are so many problems happening in the Catholic Church, and it makes our generation that much less likely to want to be associated with faith. So maybe the new pope can change that," junior Michael Morrison said.
Bergoglio has always been an active voice in controversial topics, and is even considered a more liberal Catholic leader. With stances against abortion and euthanasia and support for contraceptives to prevent diseases, Pope Francis seems to be oddly down the middle of the ideological spectrum. He may be older at age 76, but Catholics just pray that he can be a source of prosperity for the faith.