Meet Pope Francis, the church’s first Latin American leader

Posted at 9:38 PM, Mar 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-13 23:09:07-04

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope and first pope from the Latin America.  But who is Jorge Bergoglio and what will his papacy mean for Catholics around the world?

Jorge Bergoglio was born in Argentina to an Italian immigrant who worked on the railroads. The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires spent most of his career in Argentina.  He is known for helping modernize an otherwise very old-fashioned Catholic Church in the country.   But Fordham University Professor of Theology Maureen Tilley says his views are far from liberal.

However like Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis takes a vow of poverty very seriously.  He is known to make frequent visits to impoverished areas around Argentina’s capital, and has rejected certain frills usually afforded the archbishop.

Even though the votes are supposed to remain secret, there are reports that Bergoglio was actually runner-up to Pope Benedict the sixteenth when he was elected back in 2005.

But at 76-years-old Bergoglio’s election comes as somewhat of a surprise.  But Tilley says the fact that Bergoglio follows popes from Germany and Poland sends a clear message across the globe

Bergolio is no stranger to overcoming difficult odds.  As a young boy he suffered from a severe respiratory illness that left him with only one lung.  So seemingly he should be prepared for the challenges that await him as pope.