VATICAN CITY (USA TODAY) -- Throngs jamming St. Peter's Square roared with joy as
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires,
stepped onto the balcony as the new pope and leader of the world's 1.2
MORE: Who is Jorge Bergoglio?
Bergoglio, 76, is the first Jesuit and first
Latin American pope. He also the first to take the pope name of Francis,
for the saint devoted to the poor. The crowd was silent as Bergoglio recited the Lord's Prayer and a Hail Mary.
"Let us pray for the whole world," he told the crowd.
ask you a favor: Before the bishop blesses the people, I want to ask
you to ask the Lord to bless the bishop," the new pope said, according
to a translation by NBC News. "Please, pray in silence for me."
Twitter: Pope's @Pontifex Twitter account reactivated
115 voting cardinals took five votes over two days to reach their
decision, which came after a week of intense meetings and on the heels
of the surprising resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last month, the first
pope to step down in some 600 years.
As news spread
of the pope's election, huge crowds rushed toward the square. The
streets surrounding the square suddenly resembles the running of the
bulls in Pamplona, with all but the old and babies breaking into a trot.
the entrance to the square however they ran into elaborate police
barricades which forced people into tiny inlets that quickly became a
danger crush. "Calma, calma!" the cries went up.
The chosen cardinal became pope the moment he accepted the
election results and selected the name he will use as pope. He was then
led to the Room of Tears where he was fitted with the appropriate
vestments and given time to pray privately about the awesome
Then he returned to the Sistine
Chapel where the other 114 cardinals each individually pledge their
allegiance to him. After that, the cardinal deacon steped out onto the
balcony first to announce "Habemus Papem!" -- We have a pope!
Muslim brothers go to Mecca, well if you're Catholic this is Mecca,
it's almost too much to comprehend," said Mike McCormack of Bismark,
N.D. "We were told by a friend to come tonight. We are so glad we did."
Lewellyn nodded excitedly as the rain hammered their umbrellas. "The
pope is a world leader, which makes this event of major significance.
McCormack smiled. "I'll give you another word. It's uplifting."
man waves a Swiss flag overhead as the bells of Rome tolled and the
crowds cheered. "I came just to see this moment," said Michael
Flueckiger of Bern. "It just incredible."
back home were just as excited. Millie Teda, 75, had stopped in at St.
Patrick's Cathedral in New York after visiting a sick friend. She said
she'd been praying that an announcement about a pope would come while
she was there.
"Oh my goodness - Oh thank you, thank you,
thank you," Teda said upon hearing the news. "You know, we need some
change," Teda said. Catholics need someone who will "go more to the poor
people, to the young people because we are losing young people."
new pope will have a full plate. Benedict, who did not participate in
the election, cited health reasons in becoming the first pope to step
down in some 600 years. In his eight years the church solidified its
message on core Catholic values such as opposition to abortion and gay
marriage, and saw gains in membership in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
his departure comes at a time when the church has lost membership in
Europe and the United States, is dealing with financial mismanagement of
church assets and still trying to overcome the "scourge" as Benedict
described the past cases of priests who molested children.
the mood of the faithful in front of St. Peter's Basilica was
celebratory following the news. The first vote took place late Tuesday.
Two morning votes Wednesday brought similar results -- black smoke from
the Sistine Chapel's chimney that meant no decision on a new pope had
MORE: Meet the leading contenders for next pope
6,000 journalists from around the world were here for the announcement,
from bloggers in Mexico to U.S. network anchors. It did not compare to
the last conclave in 2005, which was preceded by a funeral attended by
hundreds of thousands of people for the much beloved John Paul II, who
had sat on the throne of St. Peter since 1976.
A scholar of the
church, Benedict did not inspire similar worldwide passion, and because
he departed voluntarily the conclave lacked the emotional drama of 2005.
But it was not short on surprises.
During a week of supposedly
private meetings among the cardinals to discuss both church matters and
the merits of various papal candidates, minutes of those meetings were
secretly leaked to Italian media. Meanwhile, U.S. cardinals, who
were holding regular press briefings, were ordered to stop, effectively
ending all communication between clergy and press as the conclave
While weeks ago there had been talk of the
possibility of a pope from the church's growth area - Latin America and
Africa - the candidate list expanded in the final days to include
whispers about a first-ever American pope, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan
of New York a leading contender.