Roman Catholic cardinals on Wednesday elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope on the second day of their conclave.
Bergoglio, 76, is the first pontiff from Latin America and will be named Pope Francis I. He replaces Benedict XVI, who abruptly resigned Feb. 28, forcing the 115 cardinals to choose a new Catholic leader. Benedict stepped down because of concerns over his age and health. He was the first pope to do so in almost 600 years.
Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, a position he left last year.
Addressing the crowd at St. Peter’s Basilica, Bergoglio said, “As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome. It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am.”
He then proceeded to recite the Lord’s Prayer.
The excitement over Bergoglio's selection wasn't confined to St. Peter's.
President Barack Obama released the following statement, “On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith. We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.”
Here’s how other U.S. leaders have reacted:
- GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor , R-Va., tweeted, “Congratulations to Catholics worldwide on the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis!”
- Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, tweeted, “Habemus Papam! Congratulations to all Catholics on the election of Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.”
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, tweeted, “Wonderful news of the selection of Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope.”
- Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., tweeted, “I pray God will uphold the new Holy Father Francis with the strength, wisdom & courage for the challenges & beauty of his role.”
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tweeted, “Great news on Pope Francis I for all New Jersey Catholics.”
- Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., tweeted, “As a Catholic, I am humbled to welcome Pope Francis I into his new role as Bishop of Rome."
- Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted, “Overjoyed for Catholics everywhere and hopeful that Pope Francis will help foster peace and spirituality across the globe.”
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...