Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be Pope Francis

Julian E. Wright

On Tuesday, March 13, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as the leader of the Catholic church’s 1.2 billion members. The election came on the second day of voting, on presumably the fifth ballot.

To become the next Vicar of Christ, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio gained a two-thirds majority of the 115 eligible Cardinals voting in conclave. Cardinal Bergoglio will follow Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as Pontiff after Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign since 1415.

As white smoke billowed from the chimney, crowds in St. Peter’s square roared with applause. More than an hour later, at 3: 13 PM EST, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior dean in the College of Cardinals, appeared at the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and prefaced the new Pope’s appearance with the Latin declaration, “Habemus Papam,” or “We have a pope.” He continued: “… the most eminent and reverend lordship, Lord Jorge Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Bergoglio.” Cardinal Bergoglio then gave Urbi et Orbi, the traditional Latin blessing of the newly chosen Pope, to the masses gathered to witness his appearance.

Cardinal Bergoglio, 76, was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He was elevated to Cardinalate in 2001 by Pope John Paul II and appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998. Cardinal Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was trained as a chemist before being ordained in 1969.

An unauthorized diary released in September 2005 confirmed that Cardinal Bergoglio was the runner-up and main challenger of Cardinal Ratzinger at the 2005 conclave. The purported diary of an anonymous cardinal claimed Bergoglio received 40 votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 in the fourth and decisive ballot that chose Cardinal Ratzinger to become Pope Benedict XVI.

He has chosen Francis as his papal name and will be coronated and inaugurated in the coming days. He is the first Argentinean Pope and first from the Americas.