VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 13: Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Credit: Peter Macdiarmid

Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was named the new leader of the Catholic Church today.

The election of Pope Francis I, as he has chosen to be named, symbolizes several firsts for the church as he is the first pope from Latin America, and the first Jesuit to be elected pope. But will he also represent a new approach when it comes to the church’s stance on social issues? Here's what we know:

Income Inequality

Bergoglio was known for taking the subway to work and not wearing showy religious garments, according to a 2005 profile of the former cardinal in the Houston Chronicle, by GlobalPost correspondent John Otis. Francis I is highly regarded in Argentina as speaking out on behalf of the poor, according to GlobalPost co-founder Charles Sennott, who covered the Vatican for many years and has written three books on the global church.

"The thing to know about Cardinal Bergoglio is that he has often been regarded as the conscience of the church in terms of the costs of globalization on the world's poor,” said Sennott.

Gay Marriage

Francis I is staunchly against gay marriage and opposed Argentina’s legalization of same sex marriage in 2010. In a July 15, 2010 article on, he is quoted as saying that the same sex marriage bill was “a plan to destroy God’s plan,” and that “it is a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God.”


Francis I is against abortion under any circumstance, and also opposed Argentina’s legalization of abortion in 2005. A 2005 article by the Catholic News Agency quoted him as saying that Catholics should protect life in all stages, even if “they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you.”

Argentina’s “Dirty War”

In his book, El Silencio, Argentinean journalist Horacio Verbitsky asserts that the then Cardinal Bergoglio helped the Navy to hide political prisoners from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. The prisoners were hiding at Bergoglio’s "holiday home," on an island called El Silencio, according to a 2011 Guardian article by Hugh O’Shaughnessy. 

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