If on September 11, 2001 the four coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda against the United States never happened, would Francis have become the Pope? There is a connection between those terrible events that changed world history and with the events that led to the Jesuit Mario Bergoglio rising to the attention of the College of Cardinals, which then 12 years later elected him as Pope. In 1998 upon the death of his predecessor, Bergoglio became the archbishop of Buenos Aires. On February 21, 2001, the Polish Pope John Paul II made Francis a cardinal. A synod of bishops had been called by John Paul II to be held at the Vatican from Sept. 30 to Oct. 27, 2001, and Cardinal Edward Egan the archbishop of New York had been appointed as the general rapporteur whose job was to handle the legislative proposals and report on the proceedings of the meeting. Cardinal Bergoglio was appointed as his assistant. The synod began on Sept. 30, and Cardinal Egan gave the opening presentation, but three days later he returned to New York to manage the priests of his archdiocese during the turmoil in New York City, the site of one of the terrorist attack. His assistant Bergoglio took over the key role of general rapporteur, and had to do everything along with the team of theologians to keep the synod on track. He had to synthesize the comments from the participants and present them in a way that could be discussed in group meetings and then coordinate presentations of the resolutions from the discussions. It was his outstanding performance in those tasks which got him the most votes as the one to oversee the concluding work of the synod and to prepare for the next one. He had gotten the bishop’s attention and cardinals began to see him as his predecessor in Buenos Aires did who described him as “a man of prayer, a humble, courageous pastor with a simple lifestyle, a powerful preacher who shun the limelight, has great love for the poor, and is a frequent visitor to the shantytown.” The Cardinals learned that he “was never afraid to speak truth to power. He has a good political antennae, and he has shown he is able to govern.” It has been said that after Pope John Paul II died and the conclave to elect the new pope was held in 2005, he was the only serious challenger to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and he apparently received enough votes on the third ballot to block the election of Ratzinger, but for the unity of the church, he decided to pull back and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope as Benedict XVI. When Pope Benedict XVI resigned, Bergoglio was not thought of among the frontrunners for the next Pope because of his age. Bergoglio thought the same way as he revealed in a recent interview. But it has been reported that with a powerful speech Bergoglio made just before the next conclave, he returned to the Cardinal’s consideration, and was elected Pope Francis on March 13, 2013. So the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, with its much loss of life and creating two decades of strife and changing many things in the world, also led to the election of Pope Francis.