Pope Francis Selected, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio From South America
White smoke funneled out of the Sistine Chapel Wednesday, signaling a new pope had been selected thus marking the end of conclave. Thousands of rain-drenched "believers" cheered the cardinal from Argentina.
New pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, will serve under the name Francis. The 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church is the first South American to ever lead the church, and also the first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years.
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Pope Francis served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998. Popes have been European since before Columbus discovered America. Choosing a pope from South America, a continent dominated by Catholicism, sends a powerful message to the rest of the world. The Church's future lies in the Global South.
"I would like to thank you for your embrace," said the new pope, dressed in white, speaking to thousands of cheering Catholics from his St. Peter's Basilica balcony. "My brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am."
A joyous occasion today, Pope Francis will soon have to face the long list of problems that plague the Church. The humble Bergoglio will have to wrestle with a priest shortage, growing competition from evangelical churches in the Southern Hemisphere and the sexual abuse crisis that ended Pope Benedict's ineffective 8-year papacy.
The world's cardinals came together to discuss the criteria for their new leader. The intense conclave lasted more than a week.
"The pope's election is something substantially different from a political election," Cardinal Schönborn said, adding that the role was not "the chief executive of a multinational company, but the spiritual head of a community of believers."
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