What is a Jesuit and Other Pope Francis Questions Answered

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When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis Wednesday, he became an instant celebrity - and one that people have many questions about.

The 266th pope is the first Jesuit to lead the Roman Catholic Church, the first Latin American, and the first to succeed a living pope in 600 years.

Pope Francis Photo

He is also the first to take the papal name of Francis. In terms of his theology, though, the 76-year-old Argentine is a traditional and conservative selection.

How so? Here are five things to know about Pope Francis, who until yesterday was known as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

1. He's the first Latin-American and Jesuit pope ... but what is a Jesuit?

The Jesuits were founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1534 as an order of priests and brothers who took a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Pope Paul III approved the order, but there has never been a Jesuit pope until now - or one from Latin America, despite its hugely Catholic populace.

2. Pope Francis' name is derived from who? St. Francis of Assisi. While his predecessor was the 16th pope to use the name Benedict, he is the first Pope Francis.

St. Francis of Assisi is a legendary figure in Christian history, who, like Jorge Mario Bergoglio in the 20th and 21st Centuries, was an advocate for the poor.

3. What's his background? That of a humble man who lived simply. In Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio lived in a simple apartment downtown, not a palatial church property.

Seen as a figure of true empathy for the people and the downtrodden, he took the bus with other commuters to "work" and cooked his own meals at home.

That humility was seen Wednesday when, during the pontiff's first speech, he asked for the people's blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

4. What kind of Pope will he be? A theologically and socially conservative one, most likely, despite the unprecedented nature of his papacy in many respects.

He opposes abortion, the ordination of women, gay marriage and gay adoptions. He is thought to be more open-minded about contraception, however.

5. Can he turn it around? Obviously, only time will tell, but Francis takes over a Roman Catholic Church wracked by sex-abuse scandals and claims of corruption.

In Francis, adherents see a leader who they hope will restore moral clarity, structure and accountability to the Church, at a time when it's needed most.

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