pope-Jorge-Mario-Bergoglio-300x225Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a 76-year-old Argentine cardinal from Buenos Aires, has been selected as the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Bergoglio was selected by a conclave of cardinals after two days of secretive discussions and voting. He is the first pontiff from Argentina.

Bergoglio was ordained in December 1969 and was the Jesuit provincial for Argentina beginning in 1973, then rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel from 1980 to 1986. After finishing his doctoral dissertation in Germany, he returned to Argentina to serve as a confessor and spiritual director in Cordoba, according to the press office of the Holy See. He was elevated to cardinal in February 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

The Associated Press reported that he was the son of Italian immigrants, and a doctrinal conservative known for his warm personality. The first Jesuit pope, he has spent most of his life teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of Catholics in the world, according to the AP.

His biographer, Sergio Rubin, told the AP about the new pontiff’s humble personality.

“It’s a very curious thing: When bishops meet, he always wants to sit in the back rows,” Rubin said. “This sense of humility is very well seen in Rome.”

CNN once reported that he took public transportation instead of chauffeured limousines.

He had a lung removed after developing an infection as a teenager, according to the AP.

The papacy opened unexpectedly on Feb. 11 when Pope Benedict XVI, who led the church since 2005, announced his retirement. Benedict was the first pope to resign on his own accord since 1415.
The 266th pope will take control of a church facing challenges in an evolving world. Though membership boosts in Africa and South America have helped worldwide population numbers, congregations in America and Europe continue to shrink.

Perhaps most notably, clergy sex scandals have wounded the Catholic image, and there has been recent pressure to allow women into the priesthood. The new pope will be expected to address these issues during his tenure. (Courtesy NJ.com)