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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pope Francis

The new pope is an avid soccer fan and has only one lung.

  1. Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936, one of seven children. His parents were Italian immigrants — his father a railway worker, his mother a housewife.
  2. Pope Francis has only one lung, after having one removed due to a respiratory illness in 1969.
  3. Francis is the first Jesuit pope. Jesuits are followers of The Society of Jesus, an order of the Catholic Church formed in the 16th century. Typically Jesuits have reputations for scholarship — they run prestigious schools throughout the world — and evangelicalism, in the form of missionaries.
  4. In fact, Francis is a pope of firsts — besides being the first Jesuit pope, he is the first pope from the New World, the first non-European pope since the eighth century, and the first to replace a living pope in more than 600 years.
  5. In 2005, then-Cardinal Bergoglio reportedly garnered the second-most votes on each of the ballots of the 2005 papal conclave, which eventually elected Pope Benedict XVI.
  6. Pope Francis speaks three languages fluently — Spanish, Italian and German. He addressed the crowd gathered in Saint Peter’s Square in fluent Italian.
  7. Francis is known for living simply. A member of the Jesuit order, which takes vows of poverty, Francis famously takes public transportation in Buenos Aires, cooks his own meals, and lives in a small apartment. When he was appointed a cardinal in 2001, Bergoglio reportedly asked hundreds of Argentines to donate to the poor the money they had raised to fly with him to Rome.
  8. The new pope has a strong education background. Before joining the clergy, he earned a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. He would later earn a liberal arts degree in philosophy and teach literature and psychology in Argentine secondary schools.
  9. The Argentine is a devotee of the majority-Catholic nation’s other religion: soccer. Francis is a supporter of San Lorenzo, a club in Argentina’s top league. He even has his own membership card.
  10. Many Vatican watchers saw Bergoglio as a controversial pick for his role in Argentina’s “Dirty War,” the kidnapping and killing of thousands of leftists during a brutal military dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He has been involved in two court cases surrounding the kidnapping and torture of two Jesuit priests for advocating leftist theology. Some accused Bergoglio of handing him over to the ruling government, though one biographer claims Bergoglio worked behind the scenes to save their lives.


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