Argentine Jesuit Chosen as Pope Francis

After the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Catholic cardinals made history by choosing a non-European pope for the first time in over 1,000 years.

On the fifth ballot, white smoke from the Vatican signaled a new pope had been chosen. The Catholic Sun reported:

“Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was elected the 266th pope and took the name Francis.

“The election March 13 came on the first full day of the conclave on the conclave’s fifth ballot. It was a surprisingly quick conclusion to a conclave that began with many plausible candidates and no clear favorite.

“The Latin American pope, a Jesuit, was chosen by at least two-thirds of the 115 cardinals from 48 countries, who cast their ballots in secret in the Sistine Chapel. …

“A respected Italian journal said he was the cardinal with the second-highest number of votes on each of the four ballots in the 2005 conclave.

“Cardinal Bergoglio has had a growing reputation as a very spiritual man with a talent for pastoral leadership serving in a region with the largest number of the world’s Catholics.

“Since 1998, he has been archbishop of Buenos Aires, where his style is low-key and close to the people.”

First non-European pope in more than 1,000 years

The Canadian National Post pointed out that Francis is the first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years, highlighting the changing demographics of the Catholic Church.

“The move may be a boon for the Church, which has seen its membership explode outside of Europe in recent years. Thirty-nine percent of the world’s Catholics hail from Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the latest data from Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

“By comparison, 24% live in Europe, 16% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12% in Asia and 8% in North America.”


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About the Author

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett is editorial content manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in the Dallas, Texas, area. He coordinates the Life, Hope & Truth website, Discern magazine, the Daily Bible Verse Blog and the Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter (including World Watch Weekly). He is also part of the Personal Correspondence team of ministers who have the privilege of answering questions sent to Life, Hope & Truth.

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