VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio surprised the world on Wednesday when he ended a run of nearly 1,300 years of European popes and greeted St. Peter’s Square for the first time as Pope Francis.
Here is a selection of the 76-year-old Jesuit’s opinions on topics ranging from unmarried mothers, gay marriage, globalisation and his own interests and life experience:
On baptising children of unmarried parents: “The child has absolutely no responsibility for the state of his parents’ marriage. And often a baptism can be a new start for the parents as well,” he said in an interview with 30 Giorni Catholic magazine in 2009.
On gay marriage: In 2010, he challenged the Argentine government when it backed a gay marriage bill. “Let’s not be naive. This isn’t a simple political fight, it’s an attempt to destroy God’s plan,” he wrote days before the bill was approved by Congress.
On globalisation: “To fight the effects of globalisation that led to the closure of many factories and the consequences of misery and unemployment, you have to promote bottom-up economic growth with the creation of small and medium-sized companies. Outside help should not just come in the form of funds but should also reinforce a work culture and a political culture,” he told Francesca Ambrogetti from Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview in December 2001.
On vanity: “I often say to illustrate the reality of vanity: look at the peacock, how beautiful he is from the front. But if you see him from behind, you see the reality. Whoever falls for this self-referential vanity hides major misery inside him,” he said in an interview published on La Stampa’s Vatican Insider website in February 2012.
On dancing the tango: “I like the tango a lot, and when I was young I used to dance it,” he told Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin, the authors of his 2010 biography El Jesuita. On his former girlfriend: “She was one of a group of friends I went dancing with. But then I discovered my religious vocation,” he told Ambrogetti and Rubin.
On wasting money: He is known to travel around Buenos Aires on the buses and underground, and he caught a low-cost flight to Rome, according to his cousin in Turin, Maria Teresa Martinengo.
“He can’t stand waste. He says there are children in Argentina in the favelas; he is always thinking of them,” she told La Stampa daily in an interview.
On cinema: He told Ambrogetti and Rubin his favourite film is Babette’s Feast, a 1987 Danish film about two pious Christian sisters in 19th century Denmark that take in a cook who prepares them a feast after winning the lottery.
On art: “My favourite painting? The White Crucifixion by Chagall,” he told Ambrogetti and Rubin. Chagall painted the picture in 1938, and it depicts scenes of Jewish suffering around Jesus on the cross.
Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Will Waterman