Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first non-European pope in more than a millennium and the first from South America, was a surprise choice to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. Few Vatican watchers had the Argentine cleric near the top of their lists of potential successors to Benedict XVI.
Here are five questions about the new pontiff. The answers, as they emerge, will provide a clearer understanding of where Pope Francis will take the church.
1) The new pope is a Jesuit, an order known for its scholarship, intellectual rigor and progressive tradition. How will the Jesuit heritage influence Francis’ teaching and policies?
2) The new pope is 76. When Benedict, 85, announced his retirement, he said he could no longer handle the physical demands of the job. Yet Francis is just two years younger than Benedict was when he assumed the papacy in 2005. Will Francis be up to the job physically and, if so, for how long?