News Column

Francis I Chosen as New Pope

March 13, 2013
Pope Francis, celebrating Mass in Buenos Aires as archbishop. (Aibdescalzo, Creative Commons)
Pope Francis, celebrating Mass in Buenos Aires as archbishop. (Aibdescalzo, Creative Commons)

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, from Argentina, was announced as Pope Francis on Wednesday. He becomes the first Jesuit to lead the world's Catholics, and the first pope of his name.

He is also the first modern-day pope to come from outside of Europe, CNN points out.

The new pope chose his papal name after Francis Xavier, the co-founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. He succeeds Benedict XVI, who announced his nearly unprecedented retirement last month.

Crowds who had gathered outside the Vatican chanted "Long live the pope!" as white smoke pouring from the Sistine Chapel just after 6 p.m. local time, indicating that a pope had been elected by the College of Cardinals. Military bands from Italy and the Vatican City played anthems and marched up and down, Scotland's Herald newspaper reported.

The election marks a possible reconciliation between two desires in the church, to return to an Italian as head of the church and to bring in a religious leader from the developing world.

Francis I, who is credited with modernizing Argentina's conservative church, reportedly got the second most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in 2005.

The new pope, the first to be born in the Americas and the first from the Southern Hemisphere, had spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches.

His election might help to reconcile two conflicting trends in the papal election: the push to return to the tradition of Italian popes, and the longing for a pontiff from the developing world.

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