VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope Wednesday, becoming the first pontiff from Latin America and taking the name Pope Francis I.
Appearing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica a short time later, the new pope greeted a vast crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square with salutations in Italian and led a prayer for his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
“As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome, and it seems to me that my brother cardinals went to fetch him at the end of the world,” he said. “But here I am.”
Bergoglio, 76, the first Jesuit pope, spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests, the Associated Press reported. He reportedly received the second-most votes after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — who became Benedict XVI — in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work considered an essential skill for the next pope.
“It’s a genius move,” Marco Politi, a papal biographer and veteran Vatican watcher, said of the choice of Bergoglio. “It’s a non-Italian, non-European, not a man of the Roman government. It’s an opening to the Third World, a moderate. By taking the name Francis, it means a completely new beginning.”
“We don’t know a lot about him,” said Silvia Napolitano, 62, as she walked out of St. Peter’s Square with a friend. “It seems he has a very direct connection with the people. He seems simple. And we like Argentines; they’re open and sociable. You can tell from the way he speaks with that soft Italian accent.”
Full article: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina elected pope, takes name Pope Francis I (Washington Post)