Bergoglio’s name was rarely mentioned as a possible choice by those covering the conclave which seems strange since he came in second behind Pope Benedict XVI at the last Papal Conclave. Francis’ selection is significant as he is the first Pope from the Americas… specifically Latin America where over 40% of the world’s Catholics actually live.
Contrary to what has been reported however, Francis is not the first non-European Pope. First of all, Francis is ethnically European… his parents were born in Italy and emigrated to Argentina… so in this case he is only non-European in the political sense, not the ethnic sense. Taking away this technical definition of “European” he is not even the first Pope to be born outside of Europe. There have been ten other Popes to have been born outside of Europe… including the person who the Church considers to be the very first Pope, St. Peter. So including St. Peter, there have been nine Popes from the area of the near Middle East (modern day Syria / Israel) and one from North Africa. Francis is still however the first Pope born outside of Europe in over 1200 years… still a very big deal!
There is also significant interest in the Pope’s choice of name, Francis. He is the first Pope to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi, a name traditionally thought to be untouchable. St. Francis is a fascinating figure and I invite you to follow the link below for some information on him.
Now, the world’s Catholics wonder what kind of leader Pope Francis will make… will he be a reformer, a traditionalist, a moderate… time will tell.
Who was St. Francis? http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=50
How to become a Pope. (Link provided by Kailyn Carr) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF8I_r9XT7A