First South American Pope named at the Vatican
CARDINAL Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina, was last night named as the new pope.
Cardinal Bergoglio, who is regarded as a surprise choice, will be known as Pope Francis, according to reports.
His dramatic election was signalled when white smoke billowed from the conclave of cardinals meeting in the Sistine Chapel.
Cardinal Bergoglio came second in the conclave which chose Pope Benedict, who retired last month.
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He is the first pope to be chosen from outside Europe for more than a millennium.
Pope Francis I, who is the first pope from Latin America, addressed the waiting crowd just over an hour after white smoke signalled his election.
Addressing the masses gathered in St Peter's Square, he said "the world should set off on a path of love and fraternity".
He added: "I would like to thank you for your welcome, the community of Rome, it's brotherhood, I thank you.
"Above all, I would like to pray for Pope Benedict XVI."
Minutes later, a message was sent from the official papal Twitter account, which had been re-activated, which read: "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM" - which roughly translates as "We have Pope Francis."
Several tributes poured in for the new pope, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who hailed the "momentous day" and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond sent his "warmest congratulations", adding: "I wish him well in his time in the Papacy."
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the former head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said the new pope was an "inspired" choice.
He told Channel 4 News: "He is a humble, gentle and very intelligent and spiritual man.
"I think that Pope Francis is going to be a blessing for the Catholic Church and for the world. Many will think it is a surprise choice, for me it is an inspired choice."
Pope Francis succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, whose resignation threw the church into turmoil and exposed deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a replacement to clean up Vatican bureaucracy embroiled in recent scandals.
He is the 266th and is tasked with reviving Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.
Elected on the fifth ballot, he was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years.
The quick election was a surprise given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.
The names mentioned most often as "papabile" – a cardinal who has the stuff of a pope – included Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, an intellect in the vein of Benedict but with a more outgoing personality, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican's important bishops' office who is also scholarly but reserved like Benedict.
Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, were also mentioned as possible front runners.