Pope Francis is being painted as a humble and simple man, but his past is tinged with controversy surrounding topics as sensitive as gay marriage and political atrocities.
Questions linger about Francis' actions during the nation's dark days: the so-called Dirty War, when Argentina was ruled by dictators. The gay marriage issue came to the forefront during Francis' political fight with Argentina's president.
The conservative pontiff may hold firm on some issues, experts say, but he may be flexible on others.
"If you think that (Francis) isn't going to change anything, you're wrong," said Gustavo Girard, a retired doctor who knew Francis during his early years in the priesthood. "But is he going to approve of gay marriage tomorrow? No."
Don't be surprised, Girard said, if the new pope shows flexibility on contraceptives, but don't expect him to budge on the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion.
There's been no shortage of praise for Francis as a passionate preacher and pragmatic man who prefers public transportation to private cars. It goes to his reputation as an independent thinker. But look deeper into Francis' history to see a more complicated man who's been formed by the times he's lived in.
Possibly the darkest period during Francis' rise to power took place when he served as the nation's top Jesuit.
In 1976, during Argentina's dictatorship, the navy kidnapped priests Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics. Some have accused Francis, then provincial superior for the Society of Jesus, of not doing enough to assert his influence and free them. They were found five months later.
The incident led to rumors and allegations that Francis was complicit in the dictatorship's appalling atrocity -- that he didn't do enough to expose it and perhaps was even partly responsible for the priests' prolonged detention, said Jim Nicholson, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.