VATICAN CITY- After the surprise resignation of Benedict XVI, the calls to find a strong administrator to reform the governance of the Church, days of speculation and two rounds of black smoke...the white smoke came after the cardinals chose a new leader for the Catholic Church known for his humility, and notably the first pontiff from the "New World," the Argentine-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now seared into history as Pope Francis.
The Archbishop of Buenos Aires was elected Wednesday evening with the white smoke appearing from the papal chimney just after 7pm local time. An hour later, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced “Habemus Papam”, introducing the first ever Latin-American pope (Video below).
Bergoglio brings many firsts to this papacy: the first Jesuit priest elected pope, the first in a millenium from outside of Europe, and the first to take the name Francis. The Pope, 76, is the 266th to take the throne of St. Peter. Observers say even just the choice of his name signals the beginning of a new era within the Church. The name Francis is most certainly for St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th-13th-century founder of the Franciscan order, whose plan to rebuild the Church consisted of giving away all worldly possessions.
Addressing the crowd for the first time, Pope Francis seemed to speak from the heart with a hint of a smile when he said “buona sera” (Video at bottom). Before he blessed the crowd, he asked the faithful to pray for him -- a never-before-seen sign of humility. He called himself the Bishop of Rome, not just the Pope, saying that his brother cardinals went to fetch him “at the edge of the world.”
This momentous day has drawn reactions from all over the world, especially from Argentina and the rest of Latin America.
HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM— Pontifex (@Pontifex) March 13, 2013
Praying for the new Pope Francis. May he be a grace-filled shepherd, a wise leader, & a tangible expression of Christ's love. #HabemusPapam— Kyle Horner (@KyleJHorner) March 13, 2013
Francis I was the only one in the balcony not wearing a GOLDEN crucifix.A good sign. I never understood ostentation in a Pope. #HabemusPapam— Bricio Segovia (@briciosegovia) March 13, 2013