People in the News: Pope Francis | Level 8 | By Little Fox

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[Series Introduction]

Young newscasters Ben and Olivia introduce well-known people from around the world. These “people in the news” have accomplished extraordinary things in science, sports, music, business, politics, and more!


BEN: Hello, Little Fox readers, and welcome to a new edition of People in the News. This week we’ll be talking about Pope Francis. He's the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, which has 1.2 billion members worldwide. Francis is sometimes called a "pope of firsts," right, Olivia?

OLIVIA: That’s right, Ben. He’s the 266th pope but the first one from South America, and the first non-European pope in over 1200 years. Oh, and he's also the first pope ever to take the name Francis! Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936. His father was an Italian immigrant, who worked as an accountant, and his mother devoted herself to caring for the family.
Jorge was only 13 months old when his mother had another baby boy. His grandmother took Jorge to her house every day, so his mother could have a break. As a result, he became very close to his grandmother, who taught him to speak Italian.
Jorge's parents had three more children. Jorge spent many happy Saturday afternoons with his big family, listening to the opera on the radio. Jorge also enjoyed watching movies and playing basketball. But what he really liked was going to the soccer stadium to watch the local team play!
When Jorge was 13, his father said it was time for him to get a job in addition to going to school. For three years he worked in a factory. Later, during high school, Jorge worked in a laboratory for six hours a day, starting at seven in the morning. Then he went to classes until eight at night.

BEN: Phew! That sounds exhausting!

OLIVIA: Don't worry, Ben. Jorge had time for fun too. He liked to go out tango dancing, and he even had a girlfriend! He gave her up, though, when he grew more serious about religion. He knew that Catholic priests aren’t allowed to marry.
At age 17 Jorge decided to become a priest, but he didn’t tell anyone for several years. Then two important things happened when he was 21. He got so sick that he had to have part of a lung removed, and he entered the seminary to become a priest. In December 1969, a few days before his 33rd birthday, he finally became a priest. His grandmother wrote him a special letter for the occasion, which he still treasures today.

BEN: It sure took him a long time to become a priest! What had he been doing all those years?

OLIVIA: Well, he studied a lot, earning several degrees. He also taught at two high schools.
As he began his rise through the church, Jorge continued his studies. He eventually learned three languages besides Spanish and Italian—French, English, and German.
During his early years as a church leader, Jorge encountered some controversies. From 1976 to 1983, Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship. As many as thirty thousand people were tortured, kidnapped, or killed because of their political views. Lots of people criticized Jorge and the church for not doing enough to protect people. Jorge later said he did hide some people, and helped others to escape Argentina. He also worked to locate people who’d been arrested by the military, and arrange for their release.
In 1998 Jorge was named the archbishop of Buenos Aires. He quickly became known for his deep concern for the poor and sick. He often visited the most dangerous slums in the city to bring comfort and assistance. And he lived very cheaply and simply. Even though he had access to a fancy limousine and driver, Jorge often chose to ride the bus or subway instead.
In 2001 Pope John Paul II named him a cardinal. Cardinals are high-ranking church officials who advise the pope, and participate in the . . .

[Little Fox Introduction]

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