VATICAN CITY — Argentine Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio has been chosen as the new pope, becoming the first Latin American to head the Catholic Church.
The 76-year-old religious, who chose the name Francis I, is the first Jesuit to be elected Pontiff.
A white smoke went off at 7:06 p.m. local time, announcing that the 115 Cardinal electors had reached a consensus on who should be the new Pontiff.
Dressed in the traditional white habit of the Pontiffs, the new Pope will appear from the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica to present himself to the faithful for the first time.
Bergoglio, 76, presented his resignation as archbishop at the end of last year for reasons of age. He is considered by his closest associates as a simple man.
Alejandro Russo, rector of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, described Bergoglio during an interview with CNN as “an austere man, he is a man with a strong, confident personality.”
Recognized for saying things by name, and for his adherence to the most conservative line of the Church, Cardinal Bergoglio has confronted the Kirchner government for rejecting same-sex marriage, the dignified death law and the distribution of contraceptives for free.
“I think it has been a government strategy to choose him as an enemy,” José Ignacio López, director of Vida Nueva magazine, told CNN.
Press versions, not confirmed by CNN, indicate that Bergoglio would have obtained the second majority in the last Conclave, but this time some Vaticanists say that his age would play against him.
According to López, apparently in the 2005 conclave, Bergoglio obtained some votes from one of the currents.
“I believe that at this moment Cardinal Bergoglio is already 76 years old, he has presented his resignation as corresponds to 75 with his status as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The Pope has not accepted it. I always said that the Pope had it in a drawer of his desk, ”says López.
The figure of Bergoglio fits, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, with a new group of cardinals that would promote the election of the first Latin American pope in history, alongside an Italian or Argentine secretary of state of Italian origins.