VATICAN CITY (RNS)—Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis I March 13, after only two days of voting in the conclave tasked with choosing a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to rise to the papacy. According to anonymous reports of the 2005 conclave, he was the leading contender against then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI.
“Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus Papam!” French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, using the traditional Latin formula for “I announce great news! We have a pope!”
Francis’ election was a win for those who had wanted a pope from Latin America, which is home to some 40 percent of the world’s Catholics.
White smoke billowed from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel at 7:06 p.m., as the bells of St. Peter’s basilica started ringing and thousands of people cheered in St. Peter’s square.
Cardinals reached the two thirds majority (77 votes) needed for the election of a new pope after only five ballots and two days of voting.