The Holy Father
Pope Francis, 265th Successor of Saint Peter
On March 13, 2013, the Cardinals gathered in a conclave, elected Pope Francis. He succeeded Benedict XVI, who had resigned from the Petrine Ministry on February 28, 2013.
Until his election as Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was born on December 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires. He entered the Society of Jesus, and after profession as a Jesuit was ordained priest on December 13, 1969. On May 20, 1992, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires, and was ordained Bishop on June 27, 1992. He was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires on June 3, 1997, and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino as Archbishop of Buenos Aires on February 28, 1998. He was also the Ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina who do not have an Eparchial Bishop of their own rite. He served as President of the Conference of Bishops of Argentina, November 8, 2005 until November 8, 2011. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Blessed John Paul II during the Consistory of February 21, 2001.
Motto and Coat of Arms of Pope Francis
Pope Francis has chosen the motto “Miserando atque eligendo”, which means “By having mercy on him and choosing him”.
The Holy Father’s coat of arms is similar to what he had as Archbishop of Buenos Aires: the blue field is surmounted by the mitre as Bishop of Rome and the keys of Saint Peter; the cross at the centre is the symbol of the Jesuits; the flaming sun with the letters IHS recall Our Lord’s saving mission (IHS is a Latin acronym for the words “Jesus Saviour of Humanity”); the star represents the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the flower of the spikenard or nard is used in Spanish iconography to represent Saint Joseph.
Role – The Pope performs three roles: he is the Bishop of Rome, Shepherd of the Universal Church, and Head of State of Vatican City.
As Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis is fully responsible for the Diocese of Rome, since he became the successor to Apostle Peter, the first Bishop of Rome. Popes throughout Church history have always placed much importance on their role as Bishop of Rome, despite the heavy responsibilities of the Universal Church. To meet the needs of the approximately 2.5 million Catholics in his diocese, the Pope is assisted by a Cardinal Vicar and a number of Auxiliary Bishops.
As Shepherd of the Universal Church, the Pope, aided by all the world’s Bishops, is charged with the pastoral care of all the Church In order to perform this responsibility in communion and collaboration, the Pope and the College of Bishops are assisted by a number of offices in Rome operating under the authority of the Pope. These offices are collectively known as the Roman Curia or the dicasteries of the Holy See.
As Head of State of Vatican City, the Pope has complete legislative, executive and judicial authority which is separate from the governance of the Church. Vatican City is a tiny autonomous state (the smallest in the world), which allows the Holy See to be independent from other political powers.