Pope Francis, then bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, visiting the Villa 21-24 slum in Buenos Aires, 1998.
Parroquia Virgen de Caacupe / Courtesy Reuters

Pope Francis has adorned the cover of Time, Rolling Stone, and even The Advocate, a magazine for gay news. World leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, have lined up to praise him. The pope’s rise to global popularity has been quick, boosted by a surprising and often blunt message of economic and social justice. Many observers have attributed that message to a self-conscious embrace of his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, the thirteenth-century Italian friar who was famous for choosing a life of poverty, and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI's perceived lack of attention to economic and social concerns. But Francis’ roots in

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.

Subscribe