Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina has been elected as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church.
The 76-year-old cardinal will be taking the name Pope Francis.
He will be the first Latin American pope to lead the Catholic Church and the first Jesuit priest.
About an hour after white smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel chimney, Francis appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday.
The pope addressed the cheering crowd for the first time with the traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the “City and the World”) speech.
“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 said. He thanked the church for embracing him and the cardinal who elected him.
It only took two days and five rounds of voting for the Vatican to elect Francis. In 2005, it took two days and four voting rounds when Benedict was elected.
Francis is stepping in at a time when the Catholic Church had been rocked with sexual abuse scandals and same-sex marriage issues. It is reported that Francis called same-sex marriage an “attack of God’s plan”. He also said that gay people adopting children is an act of discrimination against children.
The Survivors Network for Those Abused By Priests is said to be keeping an eye on Francis. The group wants him to “show the world that the sexual abuse of children and cover-up of abuse will not be tolerated.” Before the conclave, SNAP released two lists of 15 cardinals that they were concerned about “becoming the next pope.” But Francis was not on this list.
Francis will take the papacy immediately and will be formally installed at 4:30 am Eastern Time and 9:30 am CET.