(Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
The newly elected Pope Francis I, or Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, 76, told the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square that "it seems like my brothers have chosen someone from far away, so here I am."
Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina is the first non-European born pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, and will succeed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
One of the first acts of the new pope during his first speech was to pray for the emeritus pope, starting off with the Lord's Prayer.
Afterwards he said, "Let us begin this journey together … Let us pray for one another, let us pray for the whole world, let us have a big brotherhood. This journey for the Church that we will start today, let's open this journey and bear fruits for evangelism."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a statement shortly after the new pope was announced. Dolan said, "Pope Francis I stands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside. The bishops of the United States and the people of our 195 dioceses offer prayers for our new leader and promise allegiance to him,"
Dolan continued, "Intense prayer from all around the world surrounded the election of Pope Francis I. The bishops of the United States thank God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspired choice of the College of Cardinals."
Bergoglio was born on Dec. 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires. He has a master's degree in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, and afterwards decided to join the priesthood. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1969, and ordained a bishop in 1992. He was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1997, and was elevated to the College of Cardinals on Feb. 21, 2001.
"The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has taken the name Francis I, marks a great milestone in our church. As successor to Peter, our first pope, Pope Francis I stands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside," said Dolan.
"With joy in our hearts, we declare 'Ad Multos Annos!' (For many years!)"
During the 2005 conclave, Bergoglio had the second highest number of votes on each of the four ballots, according to the Catholic News Service.
The decision by the 115 voting cardinals gathered in Vatican City of who will lead the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world was made relatively quickly, with the cardinals only starting to gather yesterday. On day two, white smoke could be seen streaming out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney, signaling that a new pope had been elected.
The cardinal conclave this week is special in that the former pope is still alive and is the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down from the position of Pontiff. The last Roman Catholic Church head to do so was Pope Gregory XII, who did so to end the Great Schism when several clerics claimed the position.
Benedict announced that he would step down from the office on Feb. 11, citing "advanced aged" as the reason for his resignation. He officially stepped down at the end of last month. Benedict, who is 85, said, "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."
"Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff."
Benedict's election had taken less than 24 hours, being that he was very close to Pope John II and was understood to be the successor. The past six popes have all been elected within four days.
Benedict, who now has the title of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, did not participate in voting for his successor, according to USA Today.