Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected Pope on 13 March 2013, taking the name Francis. His papal inauguration Mass took place on 19 March, the Solemnity of St Joseph, in St Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to become Pope, the first to take the name Francis, and the first Pope from Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere.

Pope Francis took as his motto “Miserando atque eligendo”. The words are from a homily of St Bede on St Matthew’s Gospel, and relate to Jesus choosing Matthew as one of the apostles. Jesus saw the tax collector, Matthew, sitting at a customs post and said to him, “Follow me.” St. Bede explained in his homily that Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but with merciful understanding. The motto means “lowly but chosen”; literally in Latin “by having mercy, by choosing him”. It was also the motto of Pope Francis when he was a bishop.


The Joy-filled Pope

A sign on Pope Francis’ door in Casa Santa Marta where he lives contains a very direct message from a pope who speaks often about joy:

“No whining – violators are subject to a syndrome of always feeling like a victim and the consequent reduction of your sense of humor and capacity to solve problems. The penalty is doubled if the violation takes place in the presence of children. To get the best out of yourself, concentrate on your potential and not on your limitations. Stop complaining and take steps to improve your life”.

Major papal documents of Pope Francis

Lumen Gentium – The Light of Faith (2013)

This encyclical was written by Pope Francis in collaboration with Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. It is about faith and follows Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals on charity (Deus Caritas Est) and hope (Spe Salvi).  It was the first time in the Church’s history that an encyclical was written by two popes.

Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel (2013)

This Apostolic exhortation is about “the church’s primary mission of evangelization in the modern world” – the Church must understand itself as a “community of missionary disciples”, who are “permanently in a state of mission”. Evangelii gaudium touches on many of the themes of Francis’ papacy, including obligations Christians have to the poor and the duty to establish and maintain just economic, political, and legal orders.

Laudato Si’ – Praise Be to You (On the Care of our Common Home) (2015)

This is the second encyclical of Pope Francis and is subtitled “On Care for our Common Home”. In it, Pope Francis discusses consumerism and development, and their effects including poverty, environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action.”

Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love (2016)

This post-synodal Apostolic exhortation is concerned with the pastoral care of families, and a range of challenges faced by families. It includes a reflection on love in the daily reality of family life, and encourages clergy and lay people to accompany and care for families especially those in special need.

Gaudete et Exultate – Rejoice and Be Glad (2018)

This Apostolic exhortation focuses on the universal call to holiness, and seeks to “re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time”. The document deals with the call to holiness; false forms of holiness; on the Beatitudes and holiness in the Gospel; on five signs of holiness in the modern world, and on discernment.

Christus Vivit – Christ is Alive (2019)

This is a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, written in response to the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on young people, faith and vocational discernment, held in October 2018. It is addressed “to young people and to the entire people of God”, states that the church has to repair its reputation with young people or risk becoming a “museum” if it did not change. It identifies role models for young people, challenges facing them and where the Church has failed them, and how they might respond to the plan God has for each of them.

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