Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the Bishop of Rome and hence head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since 2013
Francis is the first pope to be a member of the Society of Jesus, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since Gregory III, a Syrian who reigned in the 8th century.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio worked for a time as a bouncer and a janitor as a young man before training to be a chemist and working as a technician in a food science laboratory. After recovering from a severe illness,
he was inspired to join the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1958. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was the Jesuit provincial superior in Argentina. He became the archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
Rumors of retirement really gained steam in May, when Francis announced a consistory to create 21 new cardinals scheduled for Aug. 27. Sixteen of those cardinals are under age 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect Francis’ successor.
Francis has been open about his health issues, with the Vatican saying that the decision to postpone the Africa trip was made at the request of his doctors. And last month, he even made some jokes about his knee pain with reporters.
Still, Francis has shown no signs he wants to step down, and he has major projects on the horizon, such as a 2023 meeting of the world’s bishops to debate the increasing decentralization of the Catholic Church.