The life of Pope Francis

Perhaps the most progressive Catholic leader yet, he came from humble roots to lead the most powerful church in the world. This is the life of Pope Francis.

The head of the Catholic Church

“We lost the charm of dreaming together, and for this wealth, which is moved by hope, to go ahead, We have to walk together, we have to meet each other, we have to dream. Don't lose the charm of dreaming, take the risk of dream.”

He was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina in 1936

His parents were both Italian immigrants. As a teenager, he had a case of life-threatening pneumonia, and had one of his lungs removed. In his youth, he worked as both a janitor and briefly as a nightclub bouncer. He attended technical school in Buenos Aires — and worked briefly as a chemical technician. One day, while walking past the San José de Flores Church in Buenos Aires, he decided to go in. He gave his confession and afterwards felt a strong calling to become a priest. At 22, he fell in love with a woman and briefly considered quitting the seminary. He decided to commit to the church, and at 32, he was ordained a Catholic priest. At 37, he served as the head of the Jesuit province of Argentina. During this time, a military coup in Argentina left the country under fascist rule. To this day, he is accused of remaining silent while priests, bishops, and thousands of others disappeared due to the military government.

At 62, he became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires

He was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II at age 65. Just over a decade later, he was elected Pope — shortly after the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. He chose the name Francis after Saint Francis of Assisi, who was known for his love of nature and concern for the poor. His papacy has been defined by his humility and his push to make the church more progressive. He’s praised climate change activists, supported the ordination of married priests, suggested the church be more tolerant of gay people. On this matter, he stated, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” He also lifted secrecy rules around sexual abuse. He does not, however, support abortion or gay marriage. He’s one of the more globe-trotting popes having visited over 30 countries.