VATICAN CITY (CBS NEWS)-- The world's 1.2 billion Catholics have a new leader. His name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, but he will be known henceforth as Pope Francis I.
Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires and a member of the largest Catholic order, the Jesuits, is the first pope from the new world. Born in Argentina to parents of Italian descent, he represents a bridge between the Church's European roots and its future, which lies, according to many, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Bergoglio's chosen name, Francis, is taken from the patron saint of Italy, Saint Francis of Assissi.
After just a day and a half of voting, the 115 cardinal electors locked inside the ornate Sistine Chapel sent a cloud of white smoke up a chimney and into the air over St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, signaling a conclusive vote -- at least 77 of them agreed on a man to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.
Thousands of the faithful and the curious huddled underneath umbrellas in a rain-drenched St. Peter's Square erupted in applause and cheers upon seeing the white plume drift over the Chapel. Three American tourists told CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips they were in Rome on vacation and just came to the square to "see if we'd get lucky." They got lucky, and witnessed history.
Within an hour, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon of the Church, stepped onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and announced in Latin the name of the man elected to lead the faith -- the 266th pope and the 265th successor to the apostle Peter, for whom the basilica and the square take their name. Catholics believe Jesus Christ himself chose Peter to lead his church on Earth.
CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey notes that no pope in the Church's near-2,000 year history has ever been so bold as to claim the name of the original pontiff for himself -- there has never been a Peter II.
Pope Francis I was chosen from among the cardinal electors themselves.
Shortly after Tauran's announcement the new Holy Father will himself appear on the balcony, clad in his papal vesture, to give his first blessing. He will already have been the pope at that stage for about an hour -- officially assuming the title while still inside the Sistine Chapel. After accepting the position before his fellow cardinals and informing them of his chosen papal name, the new pope will have gone to pray in the Pauline Chapel, across from the Sistine Chapel, before greeting the crowd.
In spite of a much-discussed divide among the prelates heading into the conclave, pitting traditionalists from the Vatican establishment against those more interested in reform, the cardinals have concluded their election in a time frame typical, if not shorter than, the past six conclaves.
The decisive action may be taken as a deliberate move by the clerics to disprove the widespread claims of a bitter division within the College of Cardinals.
The new pontiff inherits a Church still reeling from the child sexual abuse scandal and mired in financial and bureaucratic mismanagement which his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI failed to address before he shocked the world by becoming the first pope to retire in almost 600 years.
In their chosen new leader, the cardinals will hope for a man capable of addressing the internal problems of governance brought to light by the torrid Vatileaks scandal last year, and a man with enough of the persona and charm that endeared Pope John Paul II to the Catholic world to swell Church attendance.
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