Vatican City: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina has been elected the Catholic Church's 266th Pope. He is first Latin American to be pontiff, and will call himself Francis I.

Argentina's Pope a man with modesty

Official text of Pope Francis' 1st speech

After his election on Wednesday night, the 76-year-old Pope appeared on a balcony and greeted crowds in St Peter's Square. He was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. He asked the faithful to pray for him.

Cheers erupted as he gave blessings. Earlier, white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney announced the new Pope's election. Crowds in St Peter's Square cheered and bells rang out as the smoke appeared. Pope Francis replaces Benedict XVI, who resigned on February 28 at the age of 85, saying he was not strong enough to lead the Church.

He is the first Jesuit to become pope. A member of the Jesuits and ordained in 1936 after four years as priest, Bergoglio became head of all the Jesuits in Argentina. After studying in Germany, he became bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and archbishop in 1998. A strong supporter of helping the poor, Bergoglio was made cardinal in 2001.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced the Pope's election with the Latin words "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam" ("I announce to you a great joy. We have a Pope"). 

SIGNIFICANCE OF SMOKE

White smoke at the roof of papal conclave signalling election of new Pope

One of the most famous traditions of the papal succession ritual is the appearance of smoke from the chimney of the conclave room. The eligible cardinals conduct a secret ballot until someone receives a vote of two-thirds plus one. Since the cardinals meet in isolation to elect the new Pope, it's the only way to inform the general public about the proceedings.

On the occasion of a papal conclave, a chimney is installed at the roof of the Sistine Chapel, from which smoke arises as a signal. The ballots are burnt after each vote.  If black smoke (created by burning the ballots along with wet straw and chemical additives) appears, it indicates that no successful election has yet occurred as no candidate has received more than two-third votes. Similarly, if a new pope is elected the smoke appears is white.


Cardinals attend a mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The Mass is called "Pro Eligendo Romano Pontefice" ("For the Election of the Roman Pontiff").

Pope Francis tweets

In his first address, Pope Francis I told the crowd in St Peter's Square: "It seems my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world (to choose a pope). "Moments after the announcement of his election, he tweeted: "Immensely happy to be the new Pope, Francis I".

"The 115 cardinals have been in isolation since Tuesday, and held four inconclusive votes. At least 77 of them, or two-thirds, would have had to vote for a single candidate for him to be elected Pope. Pope Francis I was a surprise choice and not among a small group of frontrunners before the election. Many observers were also expecting a younger pope to be elected".

Crowds with umbrellas gathered in the square waving flags from around the world. The Catholic News Agency said people were running through the streets of Rome, hoping to reach St Peter's Square in time for the appearance of the new Pope. "It's so emotional. We thought we were going home and the smoke was going to be black," one Catholic told the reporters. "We're so touched. It was really incredible.”

All cardinals, celebrate Mass in St Peter's Basilica to pray for the election of the new pope

"BBC said there was elation on the rain-strewn St. Peter's Square. The crowd swelled as flags swayed and the basilica bells rang out."Viva il papa!" they chanted, as they waited to learn his name. Once the name was announced, the chants turned to: "Fran-ces-co! Fran-ces-co!"And then, to trumpet fanfare, the balcony curtains parted and the new Pope appeared to bless them. He asked them to pray with him, and for him.

Obama welcomes first Pope from America

The people roared their approval.In the crowd was Jenny Uebbing. Originally from Denver but now living in Rome, she said her son John-Paul was one of the last babies Benedict XVI blessed before he resigned."We had to be here to say hello to the new papa," she told the reporters. "Now it feels like Easter has come early."US President Barack Obama sent "warm wishes" on behalf of the American people to the newly elected pontiff, hailing the Argentine as "the first pope from the Americas", reported.

JPN/Agencies

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