THE Argentinian Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been
elected as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, and has
chosen the name Francis.
He is the first Pope from the New World, the first non-European
for more than a millennium, and the first Jesuit in history to
become Bishop of Rome.
Pope Francis was elected on the fifth ballot, on the second day
of voting, by at least a two-thirds majority of the 115
cardinal-electors gathered inside the Sistine Chapel for the
The See of Rome had been left vacant after Pope Emeritus
Benedict XVI relinquished his ministry on February 28 on the
grounds that, at the age of 85 years, he was simply not strong
enough to carry on.
The 76-year-old Pope Francis, the former Archbishop of Buenos
Aires, had been a close contender for the papacy in 2005, when
Benedict was elected in the fourth round of voting; but his
election on Wednesday night was not expected. The crowd of more
than 100,000 people in St Peter's Square fell silent when his name
The Cardinal proto-deacon Jean-Louis Tauran made the solemn
announcement at 8.12pm local time from the external loggia of the
Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Basilica, after the appearance of
the white fumata from a chimney on the top of the Sistine
Chapel an hour earlier.
He said: "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam;
Eminentissium ac Reverendissium Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio Qui sibi nomen
imposuit Franciscum." (I announce to you with great joy; we have a
Pope; the most eminent and most reverend Lord, Lord Mario Cardinal
of Holy Roman Church Bergoglio, who has taken the name
After the initial shock, the crowd began to chant together:
Pope Francis then greeted the enormous crowd that had been
gathering all afternoon in the cold and the rain.
He said: "Dear brothers and sisters, good evening. You know that
the duty of the Conclave was to give Rome a bishop. It seems that
my brother cardinals picked him from almost the ends of the earth.
But here we are!
"I thank you for the warm welcome. The diocesan community of
Rome has its bishop. Thank you! First and foremost I would like to
say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us pray
together for him, that the Lord bless him and the Virgin keep
After leading the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Gloria, Pope
Francis again addressed the crowd, saying: "And now let us begin
this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of
Rome, which is the one that leads all the churches in charity, a
journey of fraternity, of trust between us.
"Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world
so that this might be a great brotherhood. I hope that this journey
of the Church that we begin today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar
here present will assist me, will be fruitful for the
evangelisation of this beautiful city.
"Now I would like to impart the blessing, but first, first I ask
a favour of you. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that
you pray to the Lord that he bless me: the prayer of the people
asking a blessing for their bishop. Let us pray in silence, this,
your prayer for me. Now I will impart the blessing to you and all
the world, to all men and women of good will."
After the apostolic blessing, Pope Francis added: "Brothers and
sisters, I take my leave. Thank you for your warm welcome. Tomorrow
I'm going to pray to the Virgin, that she will safeguard all of
Rome. Good night and rest well."
Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, another Jesuit,
said afterward that he was very happy at the result. "We know the
hopes that it would have been someone from the continent that has
the majority of Catholics," he said.
"The choice of the name Francis is very meaningful," he
continued. "It is a name that has never been chosen before and
evokes simplicity and an Evangelical witness. His first, simple
appearance in public testifies to both.
"It is a sign of great spirituality to ask the people's blessing
for him before giving his own. It is a spirituality that recalls
that of his predecessor. His pastoral sense of relationship with
the diocese of Rome should also be noted. It is the Pope's diocese
and [he chose] to pray the Church's simplest prayers with the
People of God at a moment like this."
He added: "Cardinal Bergoglio is a Jesuit. Jesuits are
characterised by their service to the Church, collecting all the
charisms that the Lord gives us wherever they are needed, but
trying to avoid positions of power.
"For me this election takes on the meaning of a call to server,
a strong call and not a quest for power or authority. I am
absolutely convinced that we have a Pope who wants to serve. His
election was the election of a rejection of power."
He said that Pope Francis had already spoken with his
predecessor on the telephone. The pair are expected to meet in
private at Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence near Rome.
Pope Francis begins his ministry immediately, with a celebration
of mass with the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. On Friday, 15
March, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, he will meet
with the full college of cardinals, electors and non-electors. On
Saturday, in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope will have an audience with
journalists and those who work in the media.
On Sunday he will recite the first Angelus of his papacy as is
customary, in St Peter's Square. The mass to inaugurate the new
papacy will be held on Tuesday, 19 March, the Feast of St Joseph.
His visit to a Marian church on Thursday morning will be