The world’s 1.2 billion Catholics have a new Pope. Marése O’Sullivan reports…
Taking the name of Pope Francis I, the 76-year-old is the first Jesuit to ever lead the Roman Catholic Church in its 2,000 year history and also the first Argentinian.
White smoke rose from the chimney in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican City on Wednesday evening, indicating that a new Pontiff had been chosen by a two-thirds majority of the 115 cardinals.
It was one of the fastest elections in recent years, after a mere five ballots. Although Pope Francis reportedly came second in the 2005 conclave, he was not one of the leading contenders this year.
He appeared on the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica for just over an hour to greet the crowds that had gathered below. He was introduced by a French cardinal, Jean-Louis Tauran, who spoke in Latin to inform the world of the choice; “Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam,” or “I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope.”
The Pontiff prayed for the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, who announced his shock retirement last month amidst claims that he could not overcome the crises that have shaken the Vatican, from child sex abuse scandals to private document leaks.
Pope Francis also said that the cardinals went “to the other end of the world” to find a new Pope.