Argentina's Bergoglio elected, chooses Pope Francis as name

Newly elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being elected by the conclave of cardinals, at the Vatican on March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Newly elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being elected by the conclave of cardinals, at the Vatican on March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

VATICAN CITY — Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected in a surprise choice to be the new leader of the troubled Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years, and said he would take the name Francis I.

Pope Francis, 76, appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica just over an hour after white smoke poured from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel to signal he had been chosen to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

"Pray for me," the new pontiff, dressed in the white robes of a pope for the first time, urged the crowd.

The choice of Bergoglio, who becomes the first Latin American pope, was announced by French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran with the Latin words "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam" ("I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope.")

Francis becomes the 266th pontiff in the Church's 2,000-year history at a time of great crisis, with the church under fire over a child sex abuse scandal. Although a conservative, he is seen as a reformer and was not among the small group of frontrunners identified before the election.

He has spoken out strongly against gay marriage, denouncing it in 2010 as "an attempt to destroy God's plan".

Replacing Pope Benedict, who resigned last month, he also overturned one of the main assumptions before the election, that the new pope would be relatively young.

Bergoglio is the oldest of most of the possible candidates and was barely mentioned in feverish speculation about the top contenders before the conclave.

Francis is the first non-European pope since Syrian born Gregory III in the eighth century, and the third successive non-Italian pontiff.


Thousands of people sheltering from heavy rain under a sea of umbrellas had occupied the square all day to await the decision and the crowd swelled as soon as the white smoke emerged.

They cheered wildly and raced towards the basilica as the smoke billowed from a narrow makeshift chimney and St Peter's bells rang.

The excited crowd cheered even more loudly when Francis appeared, the first pontiff to take that name. "Viva il Papa (pope)," they chanted.

Frontrunners at the conclave had included Brazilian Odilo Scherer -- and Italy's Angelo Scola, who would have returned the papacy to traditional Italian hands after 35 years of the German Benedict XVI and Polish John Paul II.

In brief remarks from St. Peter's balcony, Francis said it seemed the cardinal electors "went to the end of the world" to find him. He said the world should follow a path of love and fraternity and called for the crowd to pray for him.

Bergoglio is the first Jesuit to become pope.

The decision by 115 cardinal electors sequestered in a secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel came sooner than many experts expected because there were several frontrunners before the vote to replace Pope Benedict.

The cardinals faced a thorny task in finding a leader capable of overcoming crises caused by priestly child abuse and a leak of secret papal documents that uncovered corruption and rivalry inside the Church government or Curia.

Francis will head a Church also shaken by rivalry from other churches, the advance of secularism, especially in its European heartland, and allegations of scandal at the Vatican bank.

The series of crises is thought to have contributed to Benedict's decision to become the first pontiff in 600 years to abdicate.


Bergoglio was a moderate rival candidate at the 2005 conclave to the conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Benedict.

Italian media say he impressed cardinals in pre-conclave meetings where they discussed the Church's problems.

Reserved and humble, Francis does not fit the profile of an active preacher that many cardinals had previously said they were seeking. He studied chemistry before joining the priesthood.

"I wasn't expecting it, but I'm absolutely delighted. It's a very unique moment. There is a great sense of unity here. It's great they have come to a decision about who will lead the Church," said John Mcginley, a Scottish priest from Glasgow who traveled to see the conclave.

"He's very humble, I heard that in Buenos Aires he used to take public transport, have an apartment and cook for himself. The fact that he chose the name Francis means a lot. It means we will have a humble, simple pope close to the poor people. But it was a big surprise," said Jules Charette, 54, a Canadian lawyer who traveled to Rome for the conclave.

Bands from the Italian armed forces and the Vatican's own Swiss guard army paraded in front of the basilica before the new pope appeared.

The secret conclave began on Tuesday night with a first ballot and four ballots were held on Wednesday. Francis obtained the required two thirds majority in the fifth ballot.

Following a split ballot when they were first shut away amid the chapel's Renaissance splendor on Tuesday evening, the cardinal electors held a first full day of deliberations on Wednesday. Black smoke rose after the morning session to signal no decision.

The previous four popes were all elected within two or three days.

Seven ballots have been required on average over the last nine conclaves. Benedict was clear frontrunner in 2005 and elected after only four ballots.

In preparatory meetings before the conclave, the cardinals seemed divided between those who believe the new pontiff must be a strong manager to get the dysfunctional bureaucracy under control and others who are looking more for a proven pastoral figure to revitalize their faith across the globe.

Apart from Brazil's Scherer and Italy's Scola, a host of other candidates from numerous nations had also been mentioned as potential popes -- including U.S. cardinals Timothy Dolan and Sean O'Malley, Canada's Marc Ouellet and Argentina's Leonardo Sandri.

But the frontrunners list never mentioned Bergoglio.


DonPedro_SanGomez_de_Martinez 2 years, 6 months ago

Vamos Pope Francis! Vamos Messi! Las Malvinas son Argentinas!


kevin 2 years, 6 months ago

In today's paper, 3/14/13, the article already has the media calling this Pope a "moderate." I do not think they have done much homework on the Catholic religion. Jesuits are the most orthodox of them all. Let's just pray for him to be a great Pope and leave it at that. The Catholic faith is alive and well and isn't going to go anywhere just because idiots in this world have changed. The Mass will always be a sacred thing. Read the Bible for it never changes. Make sure the one you read has the "imprimatur" inside the front over. It means that this book is approved for Catholics.


FordGalaxy 2 years, 6 months ago

Kevin - You seem to be one of the more ardent Catholics posting on these articles, so I'm curious about something. I'm asking this in sincerity, not trying to start a fight. There are some people who are incapable of talking about religion without getting hostile. Others simply say "go and read this", as though they have no justification or defense for their own faith, but instead rely on the works of othres to back them up.

I'm curious where you stand on the idea of papal infallibility? I've spoken with friends and co-workers, many of which are Catholic, over the last couple days and this topic has been broached a couple of times. Some of them do not buy it, some of them staunchly support.

Obviously, as a protestant, I'm not a follower of the philosophy. I don't believe any man or woman, regardless of office, to be infallible. I'm just curious your stance. Again, not trying to be hostile. Genuinely curious.


kevin 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't understand fully what you are asking. I think you want to know if a Catholic thinks a Pope cannot fail? Every human being can fail. None of us is perfect. I believe that and the Church teaches that. We pray all the time for God's mercy and grace and to show us his will. We are not in control of our lives. I believe that God is and I can testify to that because I lived through a horrible catastrophe and survived. Religion should be something people can discuss without fighting. Each has his own right to whatever he truly feels is his calling. As long as people follow the religion or faith they have selected, I believe that person will be saved. It says the same in the Catholic Catechism. No Pope will ever change the interpretation or the teachings of the Catholic Bible. (Check for the "imprimatur" in the front of the book or literature. It denotes confirmation that this piece of work is approved for Catholic reading and/or teaching. We are taught to love all people, no matter their faith or religion.(and that goes for you).Sorry I went on.


SickandTired 2 years, 6 months ago

FordGalaxy I think when most non-Catholics hear we believe the Pope is infallible they associate infallible with "perfect". The concept of infallibility is threefold: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Magisterium. We believe the Pope is infallible in regard to teaching Catholic doctrine on faith and morals as Jesus taught. Pope infalliblity does not mean he is without sin or incapable of making mistakes. Kevin said it best "No Pope will ever change the interpretation or the teachings of the Catholic Bible. So if Catholics and non-Catholics are looking for Pope Francis to change church views on priests marrying, same sex marriage or abortion......well it isn't going to happen. I would say to those Catholics expecting these changes, convert to Episcopalian or another religion.


DonPedro_SanGomez_de_Martinez 2 years, 6 months ago


And just to add further...What was the first thing Pope Francis asked for? To pray for him. He knows he is not perfect or Infallible and thus requests the prayers. This is a humble man who will do great things for the church.

in·fal·li·ble - Roman Catholic Church - immune from fallacy or liability to error in expounding matters of faith or morals by virtue of the promise made by Christ to the Church.


LilburnsFuture 2 years, 6 months ago

Correction: Allowing married priests has not been completely addressed. Is it possible that it would change? Well, not easily or quickly. What usually happens is that they 'quit' or suspend their holy orders, leave their post, and with special blessing leave the priesthood to become married. The question is, would they be allowed back if there was a change.


FordGalaxy 2 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the solid explanations. I've been studying some on the concept, and the reading that I had done offered up the opinion that the Pope was incapable of error while performing the duties of the office. Of course, that's not something I hold to, and a life spent in Baptist churches and hearing pastors make mistakes kind of skewed my opinion of the philosophy. I personally would never take on the assumption that anyone was "infallible" regardless of office or position, but I certainly won't fault someonw who does. Again, thanks for the explanation. It's so much better to hear it from someone within the faith than to read a clinical exposition that removes all humanity from the thought.


SickandTired 2 years, 6 months ago

FordGalaxy you're welcome. If you're interested in additional reading/explanations you should check out this link http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/papac2.htm. I am a cradle Catholic, plenty of nuns and priests in our family, taught CCD for 10 years, I'm a Eucharist Minister and a EM to the Sick. EWTN website is a great resource....i use it daily.


RiggaTony 2 years, 6 months ago

This whole thing is a shame. I'm so tired of these (mostly illegal) immigrants taking jobs from hard working Americans.


DonPedro_SanGomez_de_Martinez 2 years, 6 months ago

You are right!! I think I saw Pope Francis at the border myself. You know at that secret tunnel from Argentina to Mexico to America and then somehow to Italy? Wait...what?

Hay Caramba!


SickandTired 2 years, 6 months ago

I think RiggaTony commented on the wrong article.....or was celebrating St. Paddy's Day very early :D


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