On Wednesday, the 12th of March, all doubts were removed from the Catholic population’s mind as white smoke issued from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. For the first time in history, a South American is elected as the head of the Catholic Church.
The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio – now known as Francis I – is also the first Jesuit to reach this position. Analysts did not expect his election, as, at 76, he is only two years younger than the former pope Benedict XVI at the time of his election.
Francis I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936. He became a Jesuit in 1969 and went on to study in Argentina and Germany. In 1998, he was named Archbishop of Buenos Aires. His views are shared by church conservatives as well as reformers and he is considered ‘orthodox’ on sexual matters, though liberal on social justice issues.