Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 77, is the new pope of the Catholic Church.
The Argentine Cardinal becomes the first pontiff from the Americas.
He has chosen the name Pope Francis.
Pope Francis appears on the balcony over St. Peter’s Square to wild cheers from the crowd below.
Pope Francis — the first Jesuit pope — has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina.
The former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger, the last pope, in the 2005 papal election. He has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work — overseeing churches and priests — that some say is an essential skill for a pope.
In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world’s Catholics, the former Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as a self-effacing humility, according to his official biographer, Sergio Rubin. His personal style is the antithesis of Vatican splendor.
Bergoglio is also known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.
The new Argentinian pope shyly waved to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and marveled that the cardinals had had to look to “the end of the earth” to find a new pontiff.
Jorge Bergoglio asked for prayers for himself, and for retired Pope Benedict XVI, whose resignation paved the way for his election.
Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict — who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.
• Popes of the 20th and 21st centuries
Pope Francis — March 13, 2013-
Benedict XVI — April 19, 2005-Feb. 28, 2013.
John Paul II — Oct. 16, 1978-April 2, 2005.
John Paul I — Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 1978.
Paul VI — June 21, 1963-Aug. 6, 1978.
John XXIII — Oct. 28, 1958-June 3, 1963.
Pius XII — March 2, 1939-Oct. 9, 1958.
Pius XI — Feb. 6, 1922-Feb. 10, 1939.
Benedict XV — Sept. 3, 1914-Jan. 22, 1922.
Pius X — Aug. 4, 1903-Aug. 20, 1914.
Leo XIII — Feb. 20, 1878-July 20, 1903.
VATICAN CITY — The Catholic church has chosen a new pope.
White smoke is billowing from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, meaning 115 cardinals in a papal conclave have elected a new leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The new pope is expected to appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica within an hour, after a church official announces “Habemus Papum” — “We have a pope” — and gives the name of the new pontiff in Latin.
The conclave was called after Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month, throwing the church into turmoil and exposing deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a manager to clean up a corrupt Vatican bureaucracy as well as a pastor who can revive Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.
Whoever he may be, the new pope now changes into his papal white cassock, and one-by-one the cardinals approach him to swear their obedience.
He will stop and pray in the Pauline Chapel for a few minutes before emerging on the loggia of the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
Preceding him to the balcony is French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the protodeacon, who announces “Habemus Papam!” Latin for “We have a pope” and then introduces him to the world in Latin.
He then emerges and delivers his first public words as the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
Throngs in St. Peter’s Square are chanting “Long live the pope!,” many of them with tears in their eyes.
There are at least 50,000 people in the square. Crowds went wild as the Vatican and Italian military bands marched through and up the steps of the basilica, followed by Swiss Guards in silver helmets and full regalia.
They played the introduction to the Vatican and Italian anthems and the crowd joined in, waving flags from around the country.