After only two days of conclave, the College of Cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as pope. He is the first non-European elected pope in more than 1,000 years and the first South American ever. Before his election, Bergoglio had been the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital and largest city. He is the 266th pope to serve the Roman Catholic Church and will take the name of Francis, the first Roman Catholic pope of that name.
Thousands of onlookers in the square outside St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City had cheered earlier when a puff of white smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday. Cries of Habemus Papam, Latin for We Have a Pope, went up from the crowd as they waited in the rain for the newly chosen pontiff to appear on the balcony of the basilica. The event was broadcast to the crowd via huge televisions in St. Peter’s Square and streamed live via the Vatican’s website.
By selecting the 76-year-old Argentinian, the cardinals hoped to make a connection with the area of the world in which the majority of the world’s Catholics live, the Southern Hemisphere. Pope Francis is a Jesuit (a member of the Society of Jesus) and is considered to be a conservative and an intellectual. Experts reported that poverty is one of his greatest areas of concern.