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Home | About The Process | A Look Back At Pope Benedict

Pope Francis Described As Humble Advocate For The Poor

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Newly elected Pope Francis is described by many as a humble, low-key advocate for the poor and needy. NY1's Anthony Pascale has more on the background of the Catholic Church's newest leader.

Even though he was widely reported to have finished second in the voting in 2005, bookmakers put Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's chances of election this time at 30 to 1.

Shows what the bookmakers knew.

The 76-year-old cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires is the first Latin American pope and the first Jesuit to ever become pontiff.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1936, Bergoglio is one of five children and the son of Italian immigrants.

He has spent most of his life in Latin America teaching, leading priests and spreading the faith.

"He was a very humble guy, soft spoken," said Pablo Urquiza, who worked with Pope Francis in Argentina and is currently Time Warner Cable Deportes' Sports Director. "He will look in your eyes and talk to you.

While working in one of the poorest parts of the world, he developed empathy for those less fortunate.

In fact, he moved into a small apartment rather than the archbishop's palace and cooked his own meals.

When it came time to travel, he shied away from using limousines, instead opting to walk or take the public bus.

When he was named cardinal in 2001, he urged his fellow Argentineans not to travel to Rome for his celebration and instead donate to charity.

While Bergoglio has long called for social justice and a more even distribution of wealth, he has stuck to traditional conservative Catholic views. He opposes abortion and contraception.

When Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010, he was a vocal opponent and argued gay adoptions discriminate against children.

While his critics say he didn't do enough to stand up against his country's military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, his biographer says Bergoglio condemned the government and its leftist guerilla opponents.

Bergoglio has chosen not to publicly defend himself, almost never giving interviews to the press.

Although he's known for keeping a low profile, those days are over. He's now the head of a church with more than a billion members that many say need a strong leader now more than ever.

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