By Larissa I. López

Today, December 17, 2020, is Pope Francis’ 84th Birthday. It is also the eighth anniversary of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election as Supreme Pontiff. Thousands of congratulatory e-mails have arrived today at the address made available to the faithful for the occasion, as well as letters from children. Millions of people are also using the social networks to congratulate the Bishop of Rome.

The Holy Father has also received messages from personalities and religious leaders, as well as from Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.

It’s appropriate to recall on the day of the Pope’s birth his constant requests for prayers in his addresses, “Please, don’t forget to pray for me,” he repeats in virtually all his addresses.

The Pope’s Year 2020

This year, marked by the COVID-19 health emergency, there have been memorable moments for the Successor of Peter and the Church. We recall some of them here.

Published on February 12, 2020, was the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Querida Amazonia,” document that was the fruit of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region, titled “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for An Integral Ecology,” held in the Vatican from October 6-27, 2019.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

After the outbreak of the coronavirus, on Friday, March 27 the Successor of Peter presided over an extraordinary moment of prayer for an end to the pandemic, in which he imparted the Urbi et Orbi blessing to Rome and the world.

On a rainy evening and in an empty Saint Peter’s Square, given the restrictions imposed by the Health Authorities to overcome COVID-19, the Pontiff invited humanity to “embrace the Lord in order to embrace hope,” to combat fear in the crisis caused by the virus. “This is the strength of faith, which frees from fear and gives hope,” he said.

Then, in the month of April, the Holy Father created an emergency fund in the Pontifical Missionary Societies and another for the Oriental Churches, to help people and communities tragically affected by the spread of the virus. Much aid has been channeled through these funds to different countries.

Fratelli Tutti

More recently, on October 8, 2020, the Pontiff’s third Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti [Brothers All] was published to foster a global aspiration to fraternity and social friendship.

Divided in eight chapters, this document attempts to identity the great ideals, but also the concrete ways to follow by those that want to build a more just and fraternal world in its daily relations, in social life, in politics and in institutions.

Education, Peace, Economy

That same month, the Bishop of Rome appealed for adherence to the Global Educational Pact to “humanize the world.” Together with representatives of the world’s principal religions, he signed an Appeal for Peace during the 34th International Prayer for Peace Meeting in Rome’s Campidoglio.

In November, during the closing of the Economy of Francis event, the Pontiff sent a Video-Message to the young participants connected with the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy. It resulted in a Pact that the Holy Father signed, virtually, for a new economy on a human scale.

“Pope Francis and Young People of the Whole World for Tomorrow’s Economy,” an international event promoted by the Pontiff, gathered young economists and businessmen from all over the world. He invited them to take part in a shared commitment, a process of global change, inspired in the spirit of Saint Francis.

Year Dedicated to Saint Joseph

In the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde (with a Father’s heart), published last December 8, the Pontiff recalled the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the universal Church and, beginning that day and until December 8, 2021, he declared a year especially dedicated to Saint Joseph.

Moreover, in a Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary a Plenary indulgence is granted until December 8, 2021, fulfilling the usual conditions: Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the Pope’s intentions.

The Holy Father’s Biography

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1936, the son of Italian immigrants. The young Jorge discovered his vocation on September 21, 1953, day in which the Memorial of Saint Matthew is celebrated, the tax collector who converted when Jesus invited him to follow Him.

During a confession he had a profound experience of God’s mercy, which led him to decide to be a priest. He entered the Seminary in 1958 and opted to do his noviciate in the Society of Jesus.

Ordinations and Creation as Cardinal

Bergoglio received his priestly Ordination on December 13, 1969 with the imposition of the hands of the Archbishop of Cordoba, Monsignor Ramon Jose Castellano.

In 1973 he was appointed Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina. He received Episcopal Ordination in 1992 and was appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Primate of Argentina, in 1998. Saint John Paul II created him Cardinal in the Consistory of February 21, 2001.

Election to the Papacy

On March 13, 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first Pope from the American continent.

He is also the first Jesuit and pioneer in choosing the name Francis, in honour of the Saint of Assisi. This Saint had the poor, the last, the sick, creatures of the Earth, Sister Moon and Brother Sun as his friends, and peace of heart among men and nations, “friends” that would inspire the words and gestures of Bergoglio’s Pontificate, points out “Vatican News.”

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