Vatican City, 13 March 2013 (VIS) – Following is the official biography, published on the occasion of the Conclave by the Holy See Press Office with the information provided by the cardinals themselves.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite, was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires. He studied as and holds a degree as a chemical technician, but then chose the priesthood and entered the seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he moved to the novitiate of the Company of Jesus where he finished studies in the humanities in Chile. In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he obtained a degree in philosophy at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel.

Between 1964 and 1965 he taught literature and psychology at the Immacolata College in Santa Fe and then in 1966 he taught the same subjects at the University of El Salvador, in Buenos Aires.

From 1967 to 1970 he studied theology at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel where he obtained a degree. On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest. From 1970 to 1971 he completed the third probation at Alcala de Henares, Spain, and on 22 April 1973, pronounced his perpetual vows.

He was novice master at Villa Varilari in San Miguel from 1972 to 1973, where he also taught theology. On 31 July 1973 he was elected as Provincial for Argentina, a role he served as for six years.

From 1980 to 1986 he was rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel as well as pastor of the Patriarca San Jose parish in the Diocese of San Miguel. In March of 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis. The superiors then sent him to the University of El Salvador and then to Cordoba where he served as a confessor and spiritual director.

On 20 May 1992, John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires, He received episcopal consecration in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires from Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Apostolic Nunzio Ubaldo Calabresi, and Bishop Emilio Ognenovich. of Mercedes-Lujan on 27 June of that year.

On 3 June 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998.

He was Adjunct Relator General of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2001.

He served as President of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Blessed John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, of the Title of S. Roberto Bellarmino (St. Robert Bellarmine).

He was a member of:

  • The Congregations for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Clergy; and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;
  • the Pontifical Council for the Family; and
  • the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

To many in Buenos Ares, he is known simply as "Father Jorge." [Catholic News Service]

Biographical Trivia

  • Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital city, Dec. 17, 1936.
  • He is the first pope in history to come from the Western Hemisphere and the first non-European to be elected in almost 1,300 years.
  • He is also the the first to don the papal robes with one lung (Time Magazine).
  • Bergoglio’s reputation for personal simplicity also exercised an undeniable appeal – a Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals." -- John Allen Jr., National Catholic Reporter. 03/03/13.
  • When he became a bishop in 1992, Bergoglio chose as his motto miserando atque eligendo, “lowly and yet chosen.” The phrase comes from a homily of the Venerable Bede reflecting on the Call of Matthew. Matthew knew himself to be unworthy (read: “human”) yet Jesus chose him, not despite but because of, his humanity. These words signal humility, and may also reflect a common formulation of Jesuit identity: “What is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one is a sinner; yet called to be a companion of Jesus.” -- Source: Habumus Curriculum Vitae The Jesuit Post 03/13/13.
  • According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, "the newly elected pope decided to take the bus back to the hotel Wednesday with the rest of the cardinals instead of riding in the Holy Father’s car".
  • Amid Argentina's financial crisis in 2002, then Cardinal Bergoglio offered a sermon in Buenos Aires in which he declared "To those who are now promising to fix all your problems, I say, 'Go and fix yourself.' . . . Have a change of heart. Get to confession, before you need it even more!" [Wall Street Journal]
  • "We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But is the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one." -- from “Careerism and vanity: Sins of the Church” La Stampa interview with Jorge Mario Bergoglio. 02/24/12. [More Quotes from Pope Francis courtesy of Vincent J. Miller, America].
  • Bergoglio was reportedly Ratzinger’s main contender in the last Conclave. He is unusual in that he has always rejected posts in the Roman Curia and only visited the Vatican when it was absolutely necessary. One thing he hates to see in the clergy is “spiritual wordliness”: ecclesiastical careerism disguised as clerical refinement. [Source: "The Vatican Insider" La Stampa].
  • "“In Buenos Aires we know he’s very much devoted to the work of justice and peace. In Buenos Aires he founded a Vicariate called ‘Priests for the Favellas’ (a very poor and disadvantaged slum area). So in our diocese he has a little structure of priests working just in the favellas. He himself would go there; he would cook for them on Christmas day – even as Cardinal." -- Francis: A Tango loving Pope with new shoes, love for Our Lady and poor Vatican Radio 03/14/13.
  • Quiet thunder in Argentina This profile of Cardinal Bergoglio first appeared in The Catholic Herald [UK] on October 7 2005.
  • The woman, known only as Amalia, said that the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio, when they were both just 12 years old in the Buenos Aires suburb of Flores, declared: "If I can't marry you, I'll become a priest." - The childhood sweetheart whose snub created a pope The Telegraph 03/14/13.

Further Reading