(Billy Hallowell) In a historic move, 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected today. As the AP reports Bergoglio is the first pope ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.
CNN has more about Bergoglio:
Until last year, Bergoglio was the archbishop of Buenos Aires before stepping down because of his age…Bergoglio is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church’s most conservative wing. He has clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.
After announcing `’Habemus Papum” – `’We have a pope!” — a cardinal standing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name. Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict XVI — who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.
The archbishop of Buenos Aires spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests. It is believed that he was nearly selected during the 2005 conclave. Prior to his selection, the National Catholic Reporter noted just how close to the papacyhe might have been last go-around:
After the dust settled from the election of Benedict XVI, various reports identified the Argentine Jesuit as the main challenger to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. One cardinal later said the conclave had been “something of a horse race” between Ratzinger and Bergoglio, and an anonymous conclave diary splashed across the Italian media in September 2005 claimed that Bergoglio received 40 votes on the third ballot, just before Ratzinger crossed the two-thirds threshold and became pope.
Though it’s hard to say how seriously one should take the specifics, the general consensus is that Bergoglio was indeed the “runner-up” last time around. He appealed to conservatives in the College of Cardinals as a man who had held the line against liberalizing currents among the Jesuits, and to moderates as a symbol of the church’s commitment to the developing world.
Watch the Vatican’s announcement and Pope Francis’ reveal, below:
The Register also notes that Pope Francis is a scholar who has deep roots in theology, having studied in Germany. He’s known for being down-to-earth, rejecting a chauffeured limousine instead to take public transportation to work. He also cooked his own meals — another sign that he is not concerned with opulence and riches.
Considering these personal life choices, it’s no surprise that Pope Francis is a fierce defender of the poor. In the past, he has spoken openly about his belief that there is an “unjust distribution of goods.”
In 2007, he said, “We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
On Wednesday, after announcing `’Habemus Papum” — `’We have a pope!” — a cardinal standing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name. Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict XVI — who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.
A stunned-looking Bergoglio shyly waved to the crowd of tens of thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter’s Square, marveling that the cardinals had had to look to “the end of the earth” to find a bishop of Rome.
He asked for prayers for himself, and for retired Pope Benedict XVI, whose stunning resignation paved the way for the tumultuous conclave that brought the first Jesuit to the papacy. The cardinal electors overcame deep divisions to select the 266th pontiff in a remarkably fast conclave (more fun and interesting facts about the conclave can be found here).