The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,200 years.
In choosing Francis, 76, who had been the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the cardinals sent a powerful message that the future of the church lies in the global south, home to the bulk of the world’s Catholics.
“I would like to thank you for your embrace,” said the new pope, dressed in white, from the white balcony on St. Peter’s Basilica as thousands cheered joyously below. “My brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am.”
Speaking in Italian as he blessed the faithful, Francis asked the audience to “pray for me, and we’ll see each other soon.”
“Good night, and have a good rest,” he concluded, in a grandfatherly, almost casual tone.
“Habemus papam!” members of the crowd shouted in Latin, waving umbrellas and flags. “We have a pope!” Others cried, “Viva il Papa!”
“It was like waiting for the birth of a baby, only better,” said a Roman man. A child sitting atop his father’s shoulders waved a crucifix.
Francis is known as a humble man who spoke out for the poor and led an austere life in Buenos Aires. He was born to Italian immigrant parents and was raised in the Argentine capital.