WAMC News
3:22 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Argentine Jorge Bergoglio elected pope

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, is the first pontiff from the Americas.
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, is the first pontiff from the Americas.
Credit Wikimedia Commons/Aibdescalzo

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope — first pontiff from the Americas. His papal name will be Francis.

The new pope, who is 76, has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

The archbishop of Buenos Aires reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope.

In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world's Catholics, Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as the kind of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly.

Bergoglio is known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.

Tens of thousands of people have been celebrating in St. Peter's Square, after the news that cardinals meeting in the Sistine Chapel have chosen a new pope.

The crowd gathered in a cold rain to watch the smokestack atop the chapel. And people jumped for joy when white smoke poured out, a signal that the cardinals had elected a successor to Pope Benedict. Many chanted "Habemus Papam" (hah-BAY'-moos PAH'-pahm), or "We have a pope," as the bells of St. Peter's Basilica and churches across Rome tolled.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio e was elected on the fifth ballot -- chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years. And a quick decision hadn't been expected, since the church had been in turmoil after Pope Benedict's surprise resignation. The election also came amid revelations of mismanagement, infighting and corruption in the Holy See bureaucracy.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Born: Dec. 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Education: Studied at Theological Faculty of San Miguel. Received licentiate in philosophy.

Ordained for the Jesuits on Dec. 13, 1969.

Languages: Besides his native Spanish, Bergoglio also speaks Italian and German.


Became archbishop of Buenos Aires on Feb. 28, 1998.

Received title ordinary for the Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an ordinary in their own rite on Nov. 30, 1998.

Proclaimed cardinal by Pope John Paul II on Feb. 21, 2001.

Participated in conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. 

Served as president of the Bishops' Conference of Argentina from November 2005 to November 2011.

Check USA Today's coverage of the papal conclave for more facts about newly elected Pope Francis I.