VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Catholic church has chosen a new pope.
White smoke is billowing from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, meaning 115 cardinals in a papal conclave have elected a new leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The new pope is expected to appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica within an hour, after a church official announces “Habemus Papum” – “We have a pope” – and gives the name of the new pontiff in Latin.
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.
Update II: Pope Francis I waving to the crowd from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Back in 2005, Bergoglio drew high marks as an accomplished intellectual, having studied theology in Germany. His leading role during the Argentine economic crisis burnished his reputation as a voice of conscience, and made him a potent symbol of the costs globalization can impose on the world’s poor.
Bergoglio’s reputation for personal simplicity also exercised an undeniable appeal – a Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals.
The archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has been selected to become the next Pope, leading the Catholic Church. Like his predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, he is a staunch pro-life advocate when it comes to abortion.
He once called abortion a “death sentence” for unborn children, during a 2007 speech and likening opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.
In an October 2, 2007 speech Bergoglio said that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”
The remarks came during the presentation of a document called the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America.