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Who Is Pope Francis? Snapshot Profile Of Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio

The native of Buenos Aires, who rose to be its Archbishop, prefers the subway to limousines -- 'villas miserias' to ecclesiastical sophistication. The name he took evokes a closeness with those who suffer most.

Bergoglio in 2010
Bergoglio in 2010
Andrea Tornielli

ROME - By all accounts, the new Pope, 76-year old Argentinean Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had more votes in the last conclave in 2005 than anyone but the man eventually chosen pontiff, Joseph Ratzinger.

Unlike other leading prelates, he had always rejected powerful postings in the Roman Curia -- only coming to the Vatican when it was absolutely necessary.

Among the vices of the men of the Church, the one he least tolerates is to see a kind of “spiritual wordliness”: ecclesiastical careerism disguised as a clerical sophistication.



The new Pope was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, where he would eventually became archbishop. His father was an immigrant from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. After graduating in chemistry, Bergoglio entered the novitiate of the Company of Jesus. He would go on to study in Chile, before obtaining a degree in Philosophy and Theology in Argentina. He was Professor and Rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel and vicar of the Patriarch of San José, in the Diocese of San Miguel.

In 1986, Bergoglio completed a PhD in Germany, before moving back to Argentina, where his superiors made him spiritual director and confessor in the Jesuit Church of Cordoba. In 1992 John Paul II appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires – six years later Bergoglio succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino as the Archbishop of the Argentine capital, and was named two years ago to be the President of the Argentine Bishops Conference.

The merciful side

Bergoglio stood out among his fellow cardinals for not having a regular car and driver, preferring to use the metro to get around Buenos Aires. In Rome, he also tends to move around by foot or public transportation.

Those who know him well see in him a true man of God: the first thing he always asks people to do is pray for him. Indeed, that same request stood out as a never-before-seen gesture when he emerged on the balcony of St. Peter’s on Wednesday evening to see the faithful for the first time as Pope.

In General Congregation meetings of the cardinals that preceded the conclave, Bergoglio spoke of Christianity as merciful and joyful. His favorite priests are those who work in the “villas miserias”, the slums of Buenos Aires. Rather than face down the people with rigid doctrine, he looks for ways to get to embrace the Gospel, even those who are the furthest from the Christian message. The Church, he always repeats, must show the merciful side of God.

Bergoglio did it when he chose his papal name, almost certainly a reference to St. Francis of Assisi, whose message the worthlessness of worldly possessions.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Western Tanks To Ukraine Trigger Russian Threats — But Also Fears Of Major Counterattack

Germany and the U.S. overcame months of reluctance in the past 24 hours to commit to sending heavy combat tanks to Ukraine. Russia responded with official bluster, but others in Moscow fear that the tanks delivery could be a gamechanger on the battlefield.

Picture of recently mobilized Russian troops

Recently mobilized Russian troops getting ready to depart for service

Cameron Manley

A week of growing expectations of a coming Russian offensive was turned on its head Wednesday as Germany and the U.S. announced their intention to send heavy combat tanks to Ukraine.

The sudden show of resolve on supplying tanks — after months of reluctance, particularly from Germany — has prompted some Russians to fear that Ukraine will now be equipped for a major counterattack. That would be significant reversal after speculation had been growing this month about a Russian spring offensive.

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government confirmed Wednesday morning that Berlin plans to send at least 14 German-built Leopard 2 tanks to the frontline. U.S. media also reported that Joe Biden’s administration is expected to officially announce Washington's commitment, with at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks expected to be sent.

The timeline remains unclear as to when the vehicles would make it into combat. Still, both sides on the war acknowledged that it is a significant development with the potential to change the math on the battlefield.

Official Russian response was loaded with typical incendiary rhetoric. Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian president Vladimir Putin, said the new tanks would "burn like all the rest, only these ones are expensive.”

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