On Tuesday, September 22, Pope Francis will land at Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington, DC to begin his five day Apostolic Journey to the United States. In preparation for this historic visit we will post three stories- Who is Pope Francis, Brief History of Papal Visits to the US, and Events Taking Place During the Visit.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to parents with Italian backgrounds. While he studied and worked early on as a chemical technician, he still felt called to the priesthood. After more than ten years of formation and schooling, he ordained as a priest on December 13, 1969 as a member of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. He spent many years as part of the Jesuit provincial administration, a professor of theology, literature, and psychology, as well as serving as a parish priest. On May 20, 1992, St. John Paul II appointed Bergoglio as an Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires and he was consecrated by Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on May 27. He spent four years as an Auxiliary Bishop eventually being named Coadjutor Bishop to Cardinal Quarracino. Soon after, the Cardinal passed away and Bergoglio became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
In 2005, he traveled to the Vatican to participate in the conclave after St. John Paul II passed away. It was then that many of the other cardinals became even more interested in his ideas and what he had to say. According to reports published by Catholic News Service, he received the second highest number of votes behind Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) at the conclusion of the conclave. So while to the world it seems that he has risen out of nowhere, within the Church, he has been well known for year. He returned to Argentina and continued his ministry with his flock.
As the conclave began to elect the successor to Pope Benedict, Cardinal Bergoglio's name was glanced over as one of the favorites. Just as the Holy Spirit works however, the cardinals elected Bergoglio as the 265th successor of St. Peter on March 13, 2013. He selected the name Francis (the first Pope to do so) as a tribute to St. Francis of Assisi and a nod to his concern for the poorest of the world.
While all of this is just the surface of the story behind the man, knowing even this little bit helps to put his actions and words as Pope Francis into context. As the United States prepares for his first Apostolic Visit, we will see many stories and news reports about this man you is the Vicar of Christ. While we in the U.S. are always looking at poll numbers and political agendas, it is important to remember that the Catholic Church does not act on polls in the field or the last political election. Pope Francis embodies this the most out of anyone. He is truly concerned about those least fortunate ones in our society.
Let us take this special opportunity to not only learn more about Pope Francis as our Holy Father, but even more about our Church and how we can live out the Gospel message in our world.