Pope Francis Says "I'm Italian" - Does He Identify as Latino?

As the first Latin American pontiff in history, Pope Francis became an instant favorite among most Latino communities. Since taking power, Jorge Bergoglio has made it clear that spreading the word of God throughout Latin America is part of his agenda. Within a week of getting sworn in, Pope Francis has already met with Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who he previously clashed with in regards to gay marriage and abortion. He also plans on meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in the near future.

Despite his Latin pride, Pope Francis recently called out his European ancestry in an interview. "When we get together as a family we have big meals. We're an Italian family from the north of Italy so our traditions are strong. We eat a lot of pasta, capelletis, stuffed calamari," the leader told People. Does this mean he doesn't identify as Latino?

The fact is that Bergoglio's dad was an Italian immigrant and his mother's parents were also from northern Italy. When it comes to race in Argentina, the notion of a 'melting pot' society was not welcomed until recently. According to several reports, the population is over 90 percent white and mostly of Spanish and Italian descent. Due to political and racial paradigms, the mestizo culture wasn't as celebrated and marginalized throughout the country's history.

As the article titled, "Blackness in Argentina" puts it, "In Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere, twentieth-century nationalist crafted ideologies of mestizaje that broke with European and North American models by celebrating the indigenous or African as crucial elements in a new racial mixture. Yet most Argentine intellectuals rejected this sort of hybridity and instead constructed national identities that were at least as exclusionary as those produced by their North American counterparts."

Perhaps this is in part why Argentines have a bad rap for having an arrogant and pretentious air about them. Trust me, as a half-Argentine I know those stereotypes all too well. Pope Francis also recently joked about our reputation to an Argentine publication and called himself, "humble despite being Argentinean, because if not, he would have called himself 'Jesús II.'"

Based on that comment, one thing is clear to me - he identifies as Argentine and has a sense of humor about it. As he should.