Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will be the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church after the 115 cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel elected him in a fourth round of voting on Wednesday. He is the first-ever Latin American pope.
Bergoglio, 76, who will take the name Francis I, was the second most-voted papal candidate in the 2005 conclave that eventually elected Pope Benedict XVI, but he was not generally favored to be elected over his countryman, Leandro Sandri. The pope has suffered from physical limitations after losing a lung at age 21.
The papal conclave first convened yesterday to elect Benedict XVI’s successor, but the day ended in a billow of black smoke, signaling that the cardinals had not yet reached a two-thirds consensus to select the next pope. Today, spectators gathered in the rain at the Vatican to continue awaiting an announcement, but after three rounds of voting, no pope had been elected. It wasn’t until the fourth round of voting that the crowd sighted white smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel chimney, announcing the election of a new pope.
The former pope, Benedict XVI, shocked the world on February 11, when he announced his retirement after eight years as pope, saying he could no longer perform his job. He was the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years. Top contenders for the papacy included Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Odilo Scherer of Brazil, Sandri of Argentina, and Peter Turkson of Ghana.