Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected in a surprise choice to be the new leader of the troubled Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, 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.
The choice of Bergoglio 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 and difficulty. Although a conservative he is seen as a reformer and was not among the small group of frontrunners identified before the election.
He also went against one of the main assumptions before the election, that the new pope would be relatively young.
He is the oldest of most of the possible candidates and was barely mentioned in feverish speculation about the top contenders before the conclave.