Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian cardinal, was elected Pope Francis I today at the Vatican, becoming the first Jesuit pontiff and the first from the Americas.
Bergoglio, 76, was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is the Argentine-born son of an Italian railway worker. Described as a compassionate conservative, he came in second in the 2005 balloting that elected Benedict XVI. He is said to prize simplicity and humility and is expected to encourage priests to do shoe-leather evangelism.
When Argentina adopted same-sex “marriage,” three years ago, Bergoglio said “everyone loses” and “children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.”
The 115 cardinals who choose the pope by election are sworn to secrecy about the deliberations..
NBC had reported Milan’s Cardinal Angelo Scola and Brazil’s Cardinal Odilo Scherer were among the candidates to become the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics
Others included Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa who leads the conference of Italian bishops; Giuseppe Betori, the archbishop of Florence who is described as a “bridge builder;” Thomas Collins, the archbishop of Toronto has alerted church members to the persecution from a secular society; Timothy Dolan, New York’s archbishop who heads the U.S. bishops conference; Dominik Duka; the Prague archbishop who worked secretly as a priest under the nation’s previous communist rule; Willem Eijk, the Netherlands archbishop with degrees in medicine and philosophy; Peter Erdo; of Budapest, described as being on “the ecclesiastical fast track;” Sean O’Malley, the Boston archbishop; John Onaiyekan, of Abuja in Nigeria; Marc Ouellet, of Quebec; George Pell, of Sydney; Albert Malcolm Ranjith, of Colombo, Sri Lanka; Leonardo Sandri, Argentina; Robert Sarah, of Guinea; Christoph Schonborn, of Vienna; Brazil; Luis Tagle, Manila; and Peter Turkson, Ghana.
Benedict, 85, stepped down from the papacy in February after saying he did not have the strength needed to continue. The church is facing scandals ranging from sex abuse to Vatican bank corruption.
By tradition, a plume of white smoke from the Sistine Chapel announced to the world that the cardinals had selected a new pope.
The oath the cardinals take requires them to follow the “Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, published on 22 February 1996″ in making their decision.
They also affirm secrecy “regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting.”
The selection process this time was steeped in intrigue because a medieval prophecy recognized by many Catholics appears to indicate the man selected this time will be history’s “final pope.”