New Pope 2013: Who is Pope Francis, the First Latin American Pope?

Habemus Papam!

That is the announcement given in Latin by the cardinal protodeacon, the senior cardinal deacon, upon the election of a new pope.

But who is the new pope?

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina on Wednesday night was named the new pope, and will take the name Pope Francis I. He is the first Jesuit pope and the first Latin American pope. He is a chemist by training. He is a very vocal advocate for the poor. 

He is 76. According to a CNN analysis, Bergoglio is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church's most conservative wing. He has clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.

Here are his views on key issues.

Abortion and euthanasia

Cardinal Bergoglio has invited his clergy and laity to oppose both abortion and euthanasia.


He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are gay. As TIME Magazine reports, he strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine government to allow same-sex marriage. He calls gay marriage a "real and dire anthropological throwback."

In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: "Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."

He has also insisted that adoption by gays and lesbians is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church's tone was reminiscent of "medieval times and the Inquisition."

Church and AIDS

His doctrinal orthodoxy emphasizes Christ's mandate to love: he is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the feet of 12 AIDS patients.

Social justice

In 2009, Bergolio said that extreme poverty and the "unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities" are violations of human rights and that social debt is "immoral, unjust and illegitimate."

He consistently preaches a message of compassion towards the poor, but some observers would like him to place a greater emphasis on issues of social justice. Rather than articulating positions on matters of political economy, Bergoglio prefers to emphasize spirituality and holiness, believing that this will naturally lead to greater concern for the suffering of the poor. He has, however, voiced support for social programs, and publicly challenged free-market policies.

Relations with the Argentine government

As the Los Angeles Times reports, in 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the junta in 1976 to kidnap two Jesuit priests, whom he, as superior of the Society of Jesus of Argentina in 1976, had asked to leave their pastoral work following conflict within the Society over how to respond to the new military dictatorship, with some priests advocating a violent overthrow. Bergoglio's spokesman has flatly denied the allegations. No evidence was presented linking the cardinal to this crime.


Francis I became the winner after receiving at least 77 votes, which is more than two-thirds of the cardinals.

His election is a major milestone for the Catholic Church, which is clearly seeking to appeal to Latin Americans with the new pope selection. With its approximately 480 million adherents, Latin America is home to an overwhelming plurality of the world's Catholics. Brazil and Mexico have the two largest Catholic populations in the world, with more than 133 million and 96 million believers, respectively. However, those numbers have been on the decline, while Protestantism and evangelicalism are on the rise.

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