The new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics will be Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, who has taken the name Pope Francis I.
The College of Cardinals elected Francis Wednesday, on the second day of the papal conclave at the Vatican. The decision made history as Bergoglio is the first South American pontiff and the first Jesuit pope. He was the runner-up in the election of previous Pope Benedict in 2005.
The 76-year-old pontiff was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 13, 1936, one of five children born to an Italian railway worker and his wife.
In 1958, he joined the Society of Jesus, and then acquired a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo San José in San Miguel. Subsequently, Bergoglio taught literature and psychology at various institutions in Buenos Aires.
He was ordained for the priesthood in 1969 and ultimately became archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, succeeding Cardinal Antonio Quarracino.
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He became a cardinal in 2001.
In a bizarre episode, in the spring of 2005, just as the Vatican was prepared to select a new Pope (which turned out to be Benedict XVI), a human rights lawyer accused Bergoglio of complicity with the military junta that took power in Argentina in 1976 in connection with the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests.
Bergoglio has never been formally linked nor charged with the crime, but the allegations may have hurt his chances to become Pope in 2005. He was reporetedly a fron-runner for the post along with the eventual victor, Benedict.