The first non-European pontiff (Pope) of the modern era to succeed Pope Benedict XV, Jorge Bergogolio stood before a balcony overlooking Vatican Square and addressed its eagerly awaiting crowd and the world at large as the new pope, Pope Francis I.
Since announcing his retirement, Pope Benedict XV vacated his seat in February and left Catholics around the world wondering who would succeed as their new pope. After days of the deliberation, rising white smoke from the Sistine Chapel and the ringing of bells brought a cheer of relief to gatherers at Vatican Square as a new pope was selected.
Serving as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergogolio, 76, took the name of Francis shortly after he was elected after the alleged fifth round of voting on the second day of the cardinals’ conclave. The cardinals’ conclave is a secretive meeting of 115 cardinals who gather to select who among a list of nominees would become the new pope.
Bergogolio selected Francis named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. Bergogolio follows the church’s more conservative side and has clashed with the government of Argentina and its President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner regarding gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.
Bergogolio opposes both.
A total of 77 votes were needed to confirm a new pontiff to fill the vacant seat left empty by the historic resignation of Benedict XVI at the end of last month, and to the relief of those who follow the Catholic faith the selection process has ended.