His Holiness Pope Francis
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became
Pope Francis on March 13, 2013, when he was named the 266th pope of the Roman
Catholic Church. Bergoglio, the first pope from the Americas, reportedly took his papal title
after St. Francis of Assisi of Italy. Prior to his election as pope, Bergoglio served as
archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 to 2013, as cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church of
Argentina from 2001 to 2013, and as president of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina
from 2005 to 2011.
Early Life and Education
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936, to
Italian immigrants. As a teenager, Bergoglio underwent surgery to remove a lung due to
serious infection. Following his high school graduation, he enrolled at the University of
Buenos Aires, where he received a master's degree in chemistry before beginning training
at the Jesuit seminary of Villa Devoto. In March 1958, he entered the Society of Jesus.
Bergoglio went on to attend the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel, where
he earned a degree in philosophy, and later received a doctorate in theology in Freiburg,
Ordained as a priest in December 1969, Bergoglio began serving as Jesuit provincial of
Argentina in 1973. He later returned to his alma mater, the Philosophical and Theological
Faculty of San Miguel, where he served as rector (1980-86) as well as a professor of
In June 1992, Bergoglio was named titular bishop of Auca and auxiliary of Buenos Aires,
and in February 1998, he became archbishop of Buenos Aires, succeeding Antonio
Quarracino. Three years later, in February 2001, he was elevated to cardinal by Pope John
Paul II, named the cardinal-priest of Saint Robert Bellarmine. In 2005, he was named
president of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina, serving in that position until 2011.
Early into his priesthood, Bergoglio earned a reputation as a doctrinal conservative. He
strongly opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina, calling it "a
destructive attack on God's plan" (a same-sex marriage bill was approved by Argentinian
lawmakers in July 2010, making Argentina the first country in Latin America to legalize
such legislation). He also publicly disputed efforts to promote free contraception and
artificial insemination led by Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez.
On March 13, 2013, at the age of 76, Jorge Bergoglio was named the 266th pope of the
Roman Catholic Church—becoming the first citizen from the Americas, the first non-
European and first Jesuit priest to be named pope, and adopting the name Pope Francis.
Prior to the 2013 papal election, Pope Francis had served as both archbishop and cardinal
for more than 12 years.
Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry
Mar George Alencherry was born on 19th April 1945 in the parish of Thuruthy in the
archdiocese of Changancherry as the sixth child of the ten children of Mr. Philipose and
Mary Alencherry of whom two others are priests (Fr. Jose Alencherry and Fr. Francis
Alencherry, SDB) and one, a religious sister (Sr. Cherupushpam, S.A.B.S.). Geevarghese is
his baptismal name and he wished to be known by that name. Mar George Alencherry had
his primary schooling at St Mary’s School, Thuruthy and secondary education at St
Berchman’s High School, Changanacherry. He began his priestly formation in 1961 at the
archdiocesan minor seminary at Parel, Changanacherry. While he pursued his studies in
the minor seminary, he obtained his BA in economics with second rank from St Berchman’s
College. After the minor seminary studies he was sent to St Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary,
Aluva where he completed his philosophical and theological studies. On 18 December 1972
Cardinal Antony Padiyara, the then archbishop of Chanagancherry, ordained him priest at
St Mary’s Church, Thuruthy, for the archdiocese of Changanacherry. Later he continued his
higher studies at the Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy from where he
obtained his master’s degree in first rank.
While Mar George Alencherry was pursuing higher studies at Aluva he served also as vicar
of the filial church at Periyarmugham in the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. After
completion of studies at Aluva Mar George Alencherry was appointed as assistant vicar at
the Cathedral church of Changanacherry and Director of the Archdiocesan Faith Formation
department. Thereafter, he served three years as secretary of the Commission for
Catechism of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC). After his tenure in KCBC he was
sent to Paris for higher studies. There he pursued his studies at Sorbonne University and
the Catholic Institute from where he obtained his doctorate in biblical theology.
On returning to India in 1986 Mar George Alencherry was appointed director of the
pastoral Oriental Centre (POC) at Palarivattom and deputy secretary of KCBC. He served
the Church in Kerala in that capacity until 1993. Simultaneously he had served also as
professor at St Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor. He continued to teach at
Vadavathoor until 1997. From 1994 to 1996 he was the protosyncellus of the metropolitan
When Pope John Paul II established the diocese of Thuckalay on 11th November 1996 Mar
George Alencherry was appointed its first bishop. He was ordained bishop on 2nd February
1997 at Thuckalay by Mar Joseph Powathil, the then archbishop of Changanacherry.
As bishop Mar George Alencherry served the Syro-Malabar Church in his capacity of the
secretary of the Synod of Bishops and chairman of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal
Commission for Catechism. He has also served as chairman of the Commission for Laity of
the catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
Mar George Alencherry has been elected the spiritual leader of the more than 40 lakhs
Syro-Malabar faithful living all over the world.