The 68-year-old trained chemist and son of a railway worker has been a cardinal since 2001 and is widely seen as being open and
He stands out for his humility, living in a modest apartment, rather than his luxury official residence.
“In favour of Bergoglio is his pastoral attitude, as they say in the Church – his relationship with the people,” says Leandro Pastor, a philosophy professor at the University of Buenos Aires, who has known Cardinal Bergoglio for 25 years.
“He’s a very simple man. He’s very austere. And also, I think he’s an intelligent man and someone who is very good at communicating.”
He impressed fellow prelates in 2001 when he skilfully helped to manage a synod of bishops in Rome. Buenos Aires’ cardinal is also a strong advocate for the poor. And, as a Latin American, he comes from a region which is home to around half the world’s billion or so Catholics.
According to Monsignor Osvaldo Musto, who was at seminary with him, the archbishop would also be a good choice in terms of continuity.
“He’s as uncompromising as Pope John Paul II, in terms of the principles of the Church – everything it has defended regarding euthanasia, the death penalty, abortion, the right to life, human rights, celibacy of priests. All of this will continue if Bergoglio is made Pope.”