Pope Francis

Pope Francis, Budapest, 52nd International Eucharistic Congress statio orbis clo...
Pope Francis, Budapest, 52nd International Eucharistic Congress
Photo: Merényi Zita/Magyar Kurír

The Holy Father was born as Jorge Mario Bergoglio to an Italian family in Argentina on December 17, 1936. He is the oldest of the five children born to Regina Maria Siviori and Mario José Bergoglio. Pope Francis is the first pope from the Americas, and has always lived a simple and humble life.

He graduated with a chemical technician’s diploma in Buenos Aires, went on to study at the seminary, and entered the Society of Jesus at the age of twenty-two. Bergoglio was ordained a priest in 1969 after completing his studies in philosophy and theology. He spent the years 1970 and 1971 studying at the Alcalá de Henares in Spain. After returning to Argentina, he served as the master of novices at Villa Barilari in San Miguel, taught as a professor at the local Faculty of Theology, and then became Rector of Philosophy and Theology at Colégo Máximo.

He became provincial superior in 1973, during the military dictatorship in Argentina. Between 1980 and 1986, he again served as rector and parish priest at Colégio de San José. In March 1986, he travelled to Germany to complete his doctoral dissertation, after which his superiors transferred him to the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires and then to serve at the Jesuit church in Córdoba as spiritual leader and confessor.

He was appointed coadjutor bishop and then bishop in 1997, and became Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998. Jorge Mario Bergoglio established a mission plan based on community and evangelization for his diocese of more than three million people. His four main goals were: open and fraternal communities; informed lay persons who took on leading roles; efforts to evangelize all members of the city; and help the poor and the sick.

When he was appointed cardinal three years later, he asked his followers to not come to Rome to celebrate his cardinalate but to rather donate to the poor what they would have spent on the trip. He was the President of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference between 2005 and 2011. Before being elected Pope, he was a member of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Dicastery for the Clergy, the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Since March 13, 2013, he has served as the Catholic Church’s 266th Pope, choosing the name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. “My people are poor and I am one of them,” he has said on many occasions. He has always suggested that his priests show compassion and apostolic bravery and keep their doors open to everyone. According to the Holy Father, the worst thing that could happen to the Church is what the French theologian Henri de Lubac called a “Spiritual Worldliness”.

This is his second visit during his papacy. The last time he visited Hungary was for the closing mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress on September 12, 2021.