Pope Francis soft-spoken, popular favorite

March 13, 2013 3:28:02 PM PDT
Many Roman Catholics have never heard of the man who Wednesday became Pope Francis and details of the new pope's life in Argentina are now emerging.

The only thing more surprising than Cardinal Bergolio's election as pope is that he wasn't high on most mainstream media lists of papal candidates.

For more than ten years toiling in the Catholic Church's most populated region of Latin America, the soft spoken archbishop was a popular favorite of his fellow cardinals. His stars had been aligning for a long time and on Wednesday they resulted in his papacy.

Cardinal Bergoglio brings together two worlds important to the Roman Catholic Church: Argentina, in a Latin America that has more than half of the globe's Catholic population; and Italy, which is in his personal DNA.

In an institution that has never had a leader from outside Europe, even though Bergoglio is from outside Europe, his bloodline has Europe well represented.

But the new pope is far from Euro-minded. He has lived a humble lifestyle; even as a cardinal, taking public transportation here in Buenos Aires and cooking his own meals.

He was trained as a chemist before becoming a priest. Mostly he is described as soft-spoken and humble.

Because of that, when he does speak people pay attention, but don't always follow.

Over Cardinal Bergoglio's fierce and public campaign against gay marriage, Argentina became the first Latin American nation to legalize it.

One cardinal who may have had some influence on Wednesdy's vote actually died last summer. Italian Cardinal Carlo Martini, highly thought of by his colleagues, endorsed Bergoglio for pope even the last time around. Cardinal Martini was also a Jesuit and his views may have carried some weight even in death.