Posted March. 15, 2013 07:27,
Pope Francis has been described as "father of the poor and "an icon of humility and noble poverty," known to practice he preaches because he was once poor.
The new pontiff chose to remain at his simple apartment instead of moving into an official residence even after his appointment as archbishop of Buenos Aires. Instead of having a chauffeur drive him around, he has used public transportation such as buses and subways. He cooks for himself and has publicly said he most favors priests working mainly in poor villages. When staying in Rome to visit the Vatican, he used buses and subways. The pope has urged Catholics to donate to the poor with the money they could have used to visit the Vatican.
The pope was born Jorge Bergoglio in 1936 as one of five children to an Italian immigrant couple who settled down in Buenos Aires. His father worked for a railroad company. Entering the Society of Jesus in 1958, Bergoglio became a monk. After studying philosophy at Colegio Maximo San Jose in San Miguel, he visited rural villages in Argentina until the late 1970s.
In his first speech from the balcony of St. Peters Basilica as pope, he called himself bishop and said he will continue living a simple life and consider himself as a bishop of Rome.
In the 2005 papal conclave, the new pope finished second to predecessor Benedict in all four ballots but did not stand out this time until he was elected. Foreign media said his election was partly because of his advanced age (76), though he is still quite healthy. His having only one lung as a result of a surgery in his teens, however, has caused doubts over his capability to carry out a role that involves extensive travel around the world. The former pope Benedict was 78 when he was elected but resigned citing his advanced age and health reasons.
Sacred College elected their new pope sooner than expected after only five ballots, and questions are swirling as to why Francis and not a younger and healthier figure was not elected. According to The Associated Press, the Catholic Church elected a person famous for faithfully following the core values of Catholicism including self-control, abstinence and the Gospel, to recover public trust that the church used to enjoy, but is now seriously tainted due to a series of scandals in and out of the Vatican.
The new pope said the fundamental principle of the Catholic Church is preaching activity and exercising the teaching of the early church is the only solution. Experts say the church might reorganize organizations and operations focusing on preaching work.
Similar to other papal candidates, Francis has no experience in the Vatican and is close to an outsider. This is why he is expected to face huge obstacles in reform of the organization and administration of the luxurious and vast church, with an estimated 1.2 billion followers across the globe.
As an individual, the new pope is considered a pioneer who spread Catholic beliefs to the public while sacrificing himself to serve others, a core teaching of the church. He, however, is criticized for turning a blind eye to the military regime in Argentina, which suppressed democracy and human rights, by ordering the Society of Jesus to stick to a nonpolitical position.
The author of the popes autobiography said that without support from the Catholic Church, the military regime would not have abused power as much as it did. Seventy percent of Argentina`s population consider themselves to be Catholic but the painful history of the church is one reason just 10 percent of them attend church.
Foreign news reports say the new pope has been criticized for cowardly avoiding those persecuted by the dictatorship not only as the chief of his parish, but also as an individual even when he could personally extended a helping hand. His efforts to excuse himself as well as the church have largely failed. Francis has also been criticized by progressive Catholics for keeping away from liberation theology, a leftist theology established in the 1970s to oppose dictatorship in Latin America.