Pope Francis, the Papacy, and the Roman Catholic Church

Updated July 13, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
compiled by Catherine McNiff

Pope Francis

Jose Mario Bergoglio
(1936–), pope (2013–)
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina


Update: Pope Benedict XVI steps down from papacy


Biography: Pope Francis


A message of humility and unity

Pope Francis is the the first pope from Latin America, the first Jesuit to assume the papal throne, and the first to take the name Francis. He is a champion of the poor and a staunch advocate of environmental responsibility who emphasizes love, compassion, and our common humanity. The oldest of five children of Italian immigrants, he earned degrees in chemistry and philosophy before deciding to enter the Society of Jesus. Pope Francis, like his namesake, embraces humility and chooses to live simply, eschewing the fancy accommodations, methods of transportation, and other accoutrement favored by previous pontiffs.

During his visit to the United States on September 22-27, 2015, Pope Francis stayed two days in Washington, spending time with President Obama and speaking to a joint session of Congress, and added an unannounced appearance at the convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor. In New York, he addressed the United Nations, prayed and participated in an interfaith service at Ground Zero, and celebrated Mass in Madison Square Garden. His final stop was Philadelphia, where he participated in the World Meeting of Families. As he travels the world, meeting many of his 1.5 billion faithful, Pope Francis is greeted like a rock star, but maintains an aura of accessibility born of true humility.

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