Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, leads a a mass with cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, in a picture released by Osservatore Romano at the Vatican March 14, 2013. In his first public Mass, Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church on Thursday to stick to its Gospel roots and shun modern temptations, warning that it would become just another charitable group if it forgot its true mission. (Photo : REUTERS/Osservatore Romano )
On Wednesday Argentina Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen to succeed Pope Benedict XVI and lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. Now known as Pope Francis, he is celebrated for being the first non-European pope in over a thousand years and a committed servant to helping the poor.
The 76-year-old theologian is also known for living a humble lifestyle in which he prefers to take public transportation, rather than a chauffeur, and cook his own meals. He also visited an AIDS hospice to wash the feet of victims infected by the deadly virus in 2001.
Though Pope Francis' election symbolized a fresh outlook for Roman Catholic believers, he endorses traditional church teachings that many progressives object. He staunchly opposes homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception. He has referred to the pro-abortion movement as the "culture of death" and warned Catholics about embracing pro-choice ideologies.
"We should commit ourselves to 'eucharistic coherence,' that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. The responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors and health professionals," said the new pope in 2007.
The new pope also clashed with Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's when she tried to distribute free contraceptives. However, he did seem to make an exception for the use of condoms when it comes to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, according to a report in The Guardian.
This is just the beginning of Francis' journey, but followers should not expect him to lead the church in a remarkably new direction.