Pope Francis: 50 Years of Priesthood Serving God and His People

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Currents News Staff

Personal Facts

Birth date: December 17, 1936

Birth place: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Birth name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Father: Mario Bergoglio

Mother: Regina (Sivori) Bergoglio

Religion: Roman Catholic

Other Facts

The first Jesuit pope.

The first Latin American pope and the first from the Americas.

The first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years.

Reportedly received the second most votes in the 2005 papal election.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio took the bus to work and cooked his own meals.

Part of one lung was removed when he was a young man, but he is in good health, according to the Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.


December 13, 1969 – Is ordained as a priest.

1973-1979 – Serves as provincial for Argentina.

1980-1986 – Rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel.

June 3, 1997 – Appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

February 28, 1998 – Succeeds Cardinal Antonio Quarracino as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

February 21, 2001 – Is made a cardinal by Saint Pope John Paul II.

November 8, 2005 – November 8, 2011 – President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina.

February 11, 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI announces that he will retire, effective February 28th. He cites his “advanced age” as the reason.

February 28, 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Vatican. At 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST), his reign officially ends.

March 13, 2013 – Bergoglio is elected the 266th pope by 115 cardinals on the second day and the fifth ballot of the cardinals’ conclave. White smoke appears above the Sistine Chapel just after 7 p.m. local time. He takes the name Francis and appears on the balcony at St. Peter’s to greet the crowd.

March 19, 2013 – Pope Francis is inaugurated before a crowd of tens of thousands in St. Peter’s Square.

March 23, 2013 – Pope Francis flies to Castel Gandolfo to meet with Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican says this is the first time in the history of the church that the current pope has met with his predecessor.

March 26, 2013 – The Vatican announces that Pope Francis has decided to continue staying in a suite in the Vatican hotel instead of moving into the papal apartment.

April 13, 2013 – It is announced that an international council of eight cardinals has been appointed to advise Pope Francis in reforming the Catholic Church.

July 29, 2013 – During his first news conference Pope Francis makes the statement, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” while discussing the gay and lesbian community within the church.

September 19, 2013 – An interview is released in which Francis says that the church has the right to express its opinions but not to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians.

November 26, 2013 – Pope Francis releases “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), an 85-page call for the church to rethink some traditions.

December 11, 2013 – Pope Francis is named Time magazine’s person of the year.

December 24, 2013 – The pontiff visits with the former pope at the monastery Mater Ecclesia, where Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI lives. Francis later visits children in a local hospital.

December 24-25, 2013 – At St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis celebrates his first midnight Mass as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

March 5, 2014 – In a newspaper interview, Pope Francis reaffirms the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, but suggests that it could support some types of civil unions.

April 27, 2014 – Presides over the Canonization of Blesseds, installing popes John XXIII and John Paul II as saints. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI attends the ceremony as a guest.

August 30, 2015 – Pope Francis announces that priests around the world will be able to forgive the “sin of abortion” during the Catholic Church’s “Year of Mercy” beginning on December 8 and ending on November 20, 2016.

September 8, 2015 – The Vatican announces reforms to the legal structures Catholics must follow to achieve marital nullity.

September 19, 2015 – Visits Cuba for the first time and praises the reconciliations taking place between Cuba and the United States. Pope Francis also asks Cuba to allow for more religious freedom as the communist country prepares to build the first Catholic Church since the Cuban Revolution.

September 22-28, 2015 – Pope Francis becomes the fourth head of the Church to visit the United States. Pope Paul VI made the first visit by a pontiff in October 1965. While in the United States, Pope Francis visits Washington, D.C., speaking at a joint meeting of Congress, addresses the UN General Assembly in New York and holds Mass at Madison Square Garden and attends the Festival of Families in Philadelphia.

November 25, 2015 – Pope Francis arrives in Nairobi for his first-ever Apostolic journey to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

April 8, 2016 – Urges priests around the world to be more accepting of gays and lesbians, divorced Catholics and other people living in what the church considers “irregular” situations.

May 13, 2016 – Says the Vatican should study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons, answering a call that women, particularly in the United States, have been asking the church to address for decades.

June 26, 2016 – Says Christians owe apologies to gays and others who have been offended or exploited by the church, remarks that some Catholics hail as a breakthrough in the church’s tone toward homosexuality.

November 21, 2016 – Extends indefinitely the power of Catholic priests to forgive abortions. This follows a special dispensation during the Year of Mercy, which ended November 20, 2016, and allowed all priests, rather than just bishops and specially designated confessors, the power to absolve the “sin of abortion.”

July 16, 2017 – Dozens of conservative Catholic scholars and clergy send a letter to Francis accusing him of spreading heretical positions on marriage, the moral life and the Eucharist.

October 11, 2017 – During a Vatican conference, Pope Francis argues to change the official church teaching on the death penalty. The Catholic church currently teaches that recourse to the death penalty is permitted. The Holy Father says the death penalty is “inadmissable,” and that official Catholic teaching should reflect that.

November 27, 2017 – Pope Francis becomes the first pope to visit Myanmar, a majority Buddhist country. During a four-day trip, he meets with Myanmar’s cardinal, the military’s most senior general. While in the country, he avoids using the word “Rohingya,” a term the government rejects.

January 18, 2018 – Defends Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who is accused of covering up abuse for decades.

April 8, 2018 – Pope Francis says he made “grave errors” in handling a Chilean abuse scandal in a letter to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Chile.

June 11, 2018 – Accepts the resignation of three Chilean bishops, including Barros. The three bishops submitted declarations of resignation after meeting with the pontiff regarding abuse from May 15-17.

August 20, 2018 – The Vatican releases a letter from Pope Francis that directly addresses the latest accusations of abuse by priests. In part, he writes: “With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

September 13, 2018 – The pontiff meets in Rome with leaders of the Catholic Church from the United States to discuss a deepening crisis related to abuse scandals.

October 24, 2018 – The Vatican announces that Pope Francis has removed Bishop Martin Holley of Memphis, Tennessee.

February 3, 2019 – Pope Francis arrives in the United Arab Emirates, making him the first pontiff to visit an Arab Gulf state.

February 5, 2019 – Pope Francis becomes the first pontiff to celebrate Mass in the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, delivering an address to tens of thousands of people in Abu Dhabi.

April 27, 2019 – The Vatican announces that Francis has donated $500,000 to aid migrants in Mexico. The money will be used for housing, food and necessities for the Central American migrants. The funds will be split among 27 projects in 16 Mexican dioceses and religious congregations.

May 9, 2019 – Pope Francis issues new global rules for reporting abuse in the Catholic Church, mandating for the first time that all dioceses set up systems for reporting abuse and coverups. The new rules require all Catholic dioceses around the world to have a “public and accessible” system in place for reporting abuse by June 1, 2020.

October 5, 2019 – Pope Francis appoints 13 new cardinals during a ceremony at the Vatican.