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Francis

Francis, 1936–, pope (2013–), an Argentinian (b. Buenos Aires to Italian immigrants) named Jorge Mario Bergoglio; successor of Benedict XVI. Francis, the first non-European to assume the papacy in more than 1,200 years, is the first pope from the Americas and the first from the Society of Jesus (see Jesus, Society of). Born into a middle-class family, he earned a chemical technician's diploma, worked in industry, and later entered the seminary. He joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1958 and was ordained a priest in 1969. From 1973 to 1979, he served as Argentina's Jesuit provincial, in charge of supervising his order's activities in the country, and he later was accused of complicity in crimes committed in the 1970s "dirty war" by Argentina's military. Francis has denied these charges, and others maintain that he saved or sheltered several regime opponents and that, although he did not actively oppose the junta, he never collaborated with it. Named auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and archbishop in 1998, he was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001. From 2005 to 2011, he was head of the Argentine Conference of Bishops; he opposed contraception, same-sex marriage, and adoption by gay parents, clashing with the Argentine government on these policies. Considered a social moderate and doctrinal conservative, Francis is known for a personal style expressive of humility and a devotion to social justice. As pope he has denounced the "idolatry of money" and structural economic inequality and exclusion and called for a renewal of the Catholic pastoral ministry.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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