With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first leader of the church ever chosen from South America.
The new pope, 76, who will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.
The new pope was announced on the white balcony on the front of St. Peter’s Basilica as thousands of the faithful cheered joyously below.
“Habemus papam!,” members of the crowd shouted in Latin, waving umbrellas and flags. “We have a pope!” Others cried “Viva il Papa!”