Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been chosen as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He chose the name Francis.
Pope Francis is the first pontiff from outside Europe in more than a millennium, the first from Latin America, and the first Jesuit.
Earlier Wednesday evening, white billowed from the smoke stack of the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday night, indicating that the 115 cardinals in conclave had elected a new pontiff.
Pope Francis, 76, appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the white papal vestments to greets the crowds who had packed St. Peter's Square to wave flags and cheer. Many could be heard chanting "Viva il papa," which means "Long live the pope."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening," he told the crowd in Italian. He also made reference to his home in the Western Hemisphere by saying that his fellow cardinals had found a new pope from far away: "You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome."
The new pope was chosen on the fifth ballot. The winner requires two-thirds of the vote, which is support from at least 77 cardinals.
Bergoglio succeeds Benedict XVI, who stunned the Catholic world last month by becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign.
The former archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests, the AP reported. He is the son of Italian immigrants.
Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina's capital, the AP reported. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.
U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement on the selection of the new pope.
"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," the president said. "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."
With Fox News and the Associated Press
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