Pope Francis turns 84 today

Pope Francis turns 84 today. 

Born in Buenos Aires on 17 December 1936, the son of Italian emigrants, Jorge Mario Bergoglio celebrates his birthday at the Vatican by going about his ordinary life. 

His advanced age does not prevent him from leading the Church with firmness and an agenda always full of commitments and projects.  For example, next Monday he will give his scheduled speech to the Roman Curia (the administrative arm of the Holy See), that he has tried to make less a "court of the King" and more of a service agency.  Next March, he will leave for Iraq, a trip that promises to be historic to bring comfort to the Christian minority in difficulty.

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Many personalities wished him well today.  Among these was the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, who wrote on Twitter:  "Best wishes, Pope Francis.  We follow with the greatest respect your commitment to a Church of 'proximity', always constantly attentive to the needs of the poorest, the most fragile, the smallest."

President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella also wished the Pope well in a letter: "During this terrible year of pandemic, Francis has not failed to provide all Italians with a sympathetic and supportive closeness.  People of different faiths in moments of trial and loneliness have been able to constantly feel the support and encouragement of the Pope.  Catholics, in particular, have found consolation and hope in the firm certainty of his generous prayers".

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Years have passed since his father Mario, a railway employee, and his mother Regina Sivori, who looked after the home and education of their five children, got married.  Bergoglio grew up in a serene family that did not hinder his desire to become a priest.  He was ordained a priest on 13 December 1969, and for six years served as provincial of the Jesuits of Argentina.  First auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires and then coadjutor archbishop, and on 28 February 1998, upon the death of Cardinal Quarracino, he succeeded him in leading the diocese.

He became cardinal in 2001, then was elected Pope on 13 March 2013 after a sad and dark season of the Church as it emerged from the Vatileaks.  Today, almost seven years into his pontificate, there are many reforms underway and more to come from here on out.

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