Vatican City, Vatican -- The Catholic church has elected 76-year-old, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope. He has taking the name Pope Francis I. He's the first elected pope from Americas, according to the Associated Press.
White smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, meaning 115 cardinals in a papal conclave elected a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Read: How A Pope Is Elected
Pope Francis appeared on the balcony over St. Peter's Square to offer a prayer and to address the crowds of followers for the first time.
Read: A Pope's Name Tells His Spiritual Story And Vision
The conclave was called after Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month, throwing the church into turmoil and exposing deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a manager to clean up a corrupt Vatican bureaucracy as well as a pastor who can revive Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.
Read: Secrets Of The Papal Conclave
Pope Francis I was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He only has one lung after his other was removed due to an infection as a teenager. He speaks his native Spanish, Italian, and German.
Pope John Paul II proclaimed him a cardinal on February 21, 2001. He also participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
Timeline of Religious Career
He studied at Theological Faculty of San Miguel and was later ordained for the Jesuits in 1969. He later became a bishop after being ordained titular bishop of Auca and auxiliary of Buenos Aires on June 27, 1992. He became archbishop of Buenos Aires on Feb. 28, 1998. He received title ordinary for the Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an ordinary in their own rite on Nov. 30, 1998. He also served as president of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina for a number of years.
A list of popes from the 20th and 21st centuries:
- Pope Francis -- March 13, 2013-
- Benedict XVI -- April 19, 2005-Feb. 28, 2013.
- John Paul II -- Oct. 16, 1978-April 2, 2005.
- John Paul I -- Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 1978.
- Paul VI -- June 21, 1963-Aug. 6, 1978.
- John XXIII -- Oct. 28, 1958-June 3, 1963.
- Pius XII -- March 2, 1939-Oct. 9, 1958.
- Pius XI -- Feb. 6, 1922-Feb. 10, 1939.
- Benedict XV -- Sept. 3, 1914-Jan. 22, 1922.
- Pius X -- Aug. 4, 1903-Aug. 20, 1914.
- Leo XIII -- Feb. 20, 1878-July 20, 1903.
Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensboro will hold a special Mass to celebrate the 266th Pope. It's Thursday, March 14 at 8:45 a.m. The church is located at 201 S. Chapman Street in Greensboro.
Statement from the President on His Holiness Pope Francis
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years-that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith. We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.
Statement from the Vice President on His Holiness Pope Francis: Jill and I want to offer our congratulations to His Holiness Pope Francis, and extend our prayers as he takes on this holy responsibility. I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his Inaugural Mass. The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths. I look forward to our work together in the coming years on many important issues.
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Associated Press/USA Today/WFMY News 2