The world has a new pope: Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
White smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City on Wednesday, indicating the college of cardinals selected a leader of the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers.
French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal, stepped on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and cried out “Habemus Papam,” which is Latin for “We have a pope.” He then announced Bergoglio’s name and said he will now go by the papal name, Francis –after St. Francis of Assisi.
Shortly afterward, Bergoglio, 76, revealed himself behind red velvet curtains and greeted the swelling crowd below. He is the first Pontiff from South America.
“I want to thank you very much for your welcoming,” he said in Italian. “The community of Rome has its Bishop.” He then said a prayer for his predececessor, abdicated Pope Benedict XVI.
The decision by 115 cardinals came on the second day of top secret voting. The winner had to receive 77 votes—or two-thirds—to be named pope.
Thousands of people packed St. Peter’s Square, cheering and waving flags as they waited for the identity of the new Pope to be revealed
The decision comes following Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise announcement last month that he was resigning, citing his deteriorating health. He became the first pope to resign in 600 years, ending an 8-year tenure shadowed by a history of sexual abuse scandals.
Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was largely seen as a runner up in the last papal election in 2005. He is reportedly the son of Italian immigrants and has spent nearly his entire career in Argentina.
The Vatican must now decide when to hold a ceremony to officially install the new pontiff.
Bergoglio ended his remarks saying “Pray for me and I will see you soon.”