Pope Francis was elected as the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church in March of 2013, after his predecessor, Benedict XVI, voluntarily resigned from the position. He is the 266th Pope of Rome and also holds the titles of the Bishop of Rome and the sovereign of Vatican City.
Throughout his papacy, he has been known for his modesty, unprecedented tolerance and commitment to the needs of the poor. However, he openly opposes extremely liberal ideologies and often criticizes free-market capitalism. Upon the beginning of his papacy, he refused to wear the extravagant papal ceremonial robes and, instead, he chose to wear a more plain uniform.
This refusal was in agreement with the doctrines of Jesuits and Ignatian, which criticize the overly elaborate decoration of churches and the lavishness of ceremonial and ritual robes. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope ever, and he thinks that the Church should refrain from the extreme accumulation of wealth and capitalist superiority over its worshippers.
Pope Francis, whose given name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, joined the Jesuit order in 1960, when he was 24 years old. Prior to joining the priesthood, he lived a complicated life which was full of unfavorable circumstances. His family had fled the Fascist Italy of Benito Mussolini seven years before he was born and, as immigrants, they struggled with severe economic difficulties.
Also, in his early twenties, he overcame a severe health crisis; he suffered from several malign cysts and life-threatening pneumonia which only receded when a part of his lungs was surgically removed. At that time, he didn’t have a permanent job and earned money to support himself by working various low-paid jobs in Buenos Aires.
Since he obtained a diploma of a chemical technician, he briefly ran tests in a chemical laboratory. In 2013, the New York Post reported that “His Holiness told parishioners recently that he held a variety of odd jobs before embracing the call to the priesthood.”
One of these jobs was the role of a bouncer at a popular local nightclub. He reportedly worked as a bouncer for almost a year: at night his task was to secure order at the venue, and at daytime, he would take over some janitorial duties and clean the tables and the floor.
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It’s hard to imagine the Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church and one of the most influential figures of the world’s religious domain, to work odd and low-paid jobs which seem to be reserved for us, the mere mortals. However, Pope Francis’ beginnings were pretty rough, and he struggled to achieve his current status. Despite being the Pope, he frequently remembers his years of destitution and continues to emphasize the importance of benevolence, charity, generosity and kindness in today’s world of capitalistic opportunism.