First American, First Jesuit, First Francis

417408_10200847069355884_1762826657_nThe newly elected pope, leader of the Catholic Church, is a first in at least three ways.

A native of Argentina and the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first pope elected from the American continents. He is also the first pope in the church’s history to be from the Jesuit Order of priests, aka the Society of Jesus, and he is the first to go by the name Francis. The Jesuits were formed by Ignatius of Loyala in 1540.

Bergoglio is known for his humble demeanor, including refusing luxuries and amenities. The National Catholic Reporter claims Bergoglio was the second choice behind Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, in the 2005 conclave.

Pope Francis is considered a doctrinal conservative who maintains the church’s strong opposition to abortion, homosexuality, gay adoption and other secular practices. However, he is also known for his outreach to the poor and a passion for “social justice.” He has personally reached out to person afflicted with AIDS and washed their feet, reminding Catholics that Jesus met with prostitutes and lepers, and that believers should be unafraid to reach out physically to those in need.

Bergoglio addressed a gathering of Latin American bishops in 2007 with the following words, “We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

However, specific economic reforms have not been on the pope’s agenda, instead advocating for spiritual growth of individuals.