Pope known for catching the bus, cooking his meals

Of all the contenders to replace Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was little mentioned.

The 76-year-old reportedly received the second most votes after Joseph Ratzinger, the last pope, in the 2005 papal election.

And as a representative of South America's Catholics - who make up an estimated 40% of the 1.2 billion strong church, he was widely supported.

He became Pope Francis after a surprisingly quick conclave winning 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115 cardinals' votes, on the fifth ballot.

His decision to pick the name Francis evokes key Christian tenets such as simplicity and humility.

And they are fitting for a man who, spending nearly his entire career in Argentina, is known for catching the bus and eschewing the luxuries of high office. He cooked his own meals.

His personal style is said to be the antithesis of Vatican splendour.

Pope Francis has been described by commentators as a voice of conscience and a reconciler.

Classed by some as a moderniser of a strict South American church, he is still conservative and an opponent of such ideas as gay marriage.


• He likes to travel by bus.

• He has lived for more than 50 years with one functioning lung. He had the other removed as a young man because of infection.

• He is the son of an Italian railway worker.

• He trained as a chemist.

• He is the first non-European pope in the modern era.

• He claims that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children but believes that condoms "can be permissible" to prevent infection.

• In 2001 he washed and kissed the feet of Aids patients in a hospice.

• He speaks fluent Italian, as well as Spanish and German.

• Until now he has been living in a small flat, eschewing a formal bishop's residence.

• He told Argentinians not to travel to Rome to celebrate if he was appointed but to give their money to the poor instead.

• He is believed to have been the runner-up in the last papal conclave in 2005.

• He has co-written a book, in Spanish, called Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra (On Heaven and Earth). You can buy it on Kindle.

• Though conservative on church doctrine, he has criticised priests who refuse to baptise babies born to single mothers


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