The final person I will be discussing is Pope Francis. After the death of Pope Benedict the XVI, many people began to question who the next pope would be. As soon as it was announced that the new pope would be the former Cardinal Bergoglio, the media began analyzing his life and many wondered how he would compare to the previous popes and if he would be more liberal and work towards reform in the Catholic Church. It soon became evident that Pope Francis would be working towards reform in the Church and would hopefully change it for the better.
Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17th, 1936 in Flores in Buenos Aires. He was the oldest of five in an Italian family that had emigrated to escape the facist regime of Benito Mussolini. Bergoglio studied at his local archdiocesan seminary, Inmaculada Conception Seminary and entered the Society of Jesus on March 11th, 1958. A fun fact about the future pope is that during his time at the seminary, he had a crush on one of the girls he met, and doubted whether the religious vocation was his intended vocation. But he soon decided that he was meant to be a Jesuit, and two years later, he made the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Bergoglio was ordained the Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires on June 27th, 1992, when he chose his motto “Miserando atque eligendo” or “because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him” (Matthew 9:9-13). On June 3rd 1997, Bergoglio was named the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. One of his major reforms was to increase the number of priests working in the slums, leading to the nickname the “Slum Bishop”. He also started a new custom on Holy Thursday. Instead of washing the feet during mass, he chose to wash the feet of people in places such as jails, hospitals, retirement homes, and slums. This showed that he truly cared about all the people in the diocese, not just the more wealthy people who were able to come to mass weekly. He was then appointed a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II and soon became known for his personal humility and his commitment to social justice. He also chose to live a very simple lifestyle and lived in a small apartment, rode on public transportation, and cooked his own meals.
Cardinal Bergoglio was elected the first Jesuit pope at the age of 76. He is also the first pope from the Americas. On March 13th, 2013 he officially chose the papal name Francis. As pope, he has continued his humble lifestyle by living as simple a life as he can.
The media often portrays Pope Francis as a progressive reformer or as a liberal with moderate values. Time and The Advocate magazines named him as the Person of the Year in 2013 and in 2014 Forbes listed him in the top five most powerful men.
Pope Francis has reinvigorated the Catholic Church through his energy and his willingness to try new things. He even made a twitter, and was the most searched-for figure on Twitter. He has always placed an emphasis on simplicity as when he appeared in a simple white vestment and when he chose to live in a Vatican guesthouse instead of the usual Apostolic Palace. He appointed a new eight-man cabinet of Cardinals from outside the Vatican to essentially draw up the equivalent of a new constitution. He has made great strides in reforming the Catholic Church, and has mentioned that he will continue to review certain aspects of the church. In a time when the Catholic Church is facing a lot of criticism, it needs someone like Pope Francis to reform it and bring it back on its feet.