Habemus Papam: Francis becomes the first pope from the Americas

White smoke emerges from the Vatican chimney as Roman Catholic church welcomes its first Latin American spiritual leader

Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo Pope Francis blesses the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on March 13, 2013. becoming the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church
Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo
Pope Francis blesses the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, on March 13, 2013. becoming the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church

by, Artur Tofan
Current Affair Editor

Catholic Church breaks its tradition by electing Argentinean Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, as the first pope from the Americas.  This was signaled by the white smoke emerging from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

The new pontiff was presented to the crowd in the Vatican Square by French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, with the famous Latin phrase “Habemum Papas” (“We have a pope.”) The pontiff, dressed in white papal robes, smiled and greeted the faithful from the central Balcony of the St. Peter Basilica and said he would take the name of Pope Francis, urging the cheering crowd to pray for him.

The election of Pope Francis comes at a time of turmoil within the Catholic Church after child abuse scandals and leaked documents, which exposed financial scams involving the Vatican Bank. He is described as a conservative but is also seen as a reformer, belonging to the Jesuit Order, a society founded in the 16th century that is known for its work in education, intellectual research, cultural pursuits, and for their missionary efforts. The 266th pontiff is the first non-European to ascend to the papal throne in nearly fifteen hundred years. He comes from a middle-class family of seven and is known as a humble man, deeply concerned with the social problems in Latin America.

Pope Francis called the faithful around the world to pray for Benedict who abdicated the papacy due to what was described as old age and poor health. He promised to visit the retired pontiff at his papal summer residence outside Rome soon.  The Vatican announced that Francis’ inaugural mass would be held on March 19.

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