Why you should listen
Pope Francis was elected in March 2013, becoming the first Pope from the Americas and from the Southern hemisphere. He was born in 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in a family of Italian immigrants. A Jesuit, he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and then a Cardinal leading the Argentinian church. Upon election as the 266th Pope, he chose Francis as his papal name in reference to Saint Francis of Assisi.
A very popular figure who has taken it upon himself to reform the Catholic Church, Pope Francis's worldview is solidly anchored in humility, simplicity, mercy, social justice, attention to the poor and the dispossessed -- those he says "our culture disposes of like waste" -- and in a critical attitude towards unbridled capitalism and consumerism. He is a strong advocate of global action against climate change, to which he has devoted his powerful 2015 encyclical, Laudato sì ("Praise be to you"). He invites us to practice "tenderness," putting ourselves "at the level of the other," to listen and care. He is committed to interfaith dialogue and is seen as a moral and spiritual authority across the world by many people who aren't Catholics.