Argentina's Bergoglio elected first Latin American pope

Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis, becoming the first Latin American pontiff in an astonishing decision that raises hopes of greater openness for the troubled Catholic Church.

The 76-year-old railway worker's son emerged smiling onto the balcony of St Peter's Basilica to cries of "Long live the pope!" and devoted his first prayer to his predecessor Benedict XVI as tens of thousands of pilgrims cheered.

The first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years called for "fraternity" among the world's 1.2 billion Catholics after Benedict's scandal-ridden papacy.

"It seems that my brother cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth (to find a pope)," Francis said, referring to his native Argentina, which erupted in celebrations at his appointment.

"Now, we take up this journey... A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us," he said.

The former Jesuit priest from Buenos Aires had barely figured in the pre-vote speculation, although he is believed to have finished runner-up to Benedict in 2005.

World leaders hailed the election of a pope seen as a moderate conservative who chose to name himself after the ascetic St Francis of Assisi.

US President Barack Obama said Bergoglio was "a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us."

Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner wished her fellow countryman "a fruitful pastoral mission."

Justin Welby, the new leader of the world's Anglicans, said he was looking forward to "working together" with the new pope.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the choice by 115 cardinals in a secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel had "widened the perspective of the Church".

Sergio Rubin, religious writer for the Buenos Aires-based newspaper Clarin, said that, like pope John Paul II, Bergoglio was "conservative at the level of doctrine, and progressive on social issues".

The election was seen as recognition of the Church's rapid growth in Latin America, which is now home to 40 percent of the world's Catholics, in contrast to its decline in Europe.

In a rain-soaked St Peter's Square, Argentinians who had gathered to see the white smoke were stunned.

"I can't believe it! An Argentinian pope!" said 50-year-old Silvia Pastormerlo.

Julio Cesar Attaremo, 42, who was waving an Argentinian flag, said: "He's very humble and he's someone who really goes out to the people.

"We're very happy and proud. Not just for Argentina but for the whole of South America."

In the Argentinian capital, the faithful attending mass at the main cathedral gave Francis a standing ovation as the news came through.

There had been growing calls both within and outside the Church for the next pope to come from the southern hemisphere for the first time, but Bergoglio ranked just 40th on one bookmakers' list of pre-conclave favourites.

The Vatican said his inauguration mass would take place on Tuesday -- a significant date in the Catholic calendar because it is the Feast of St Joseph, patron saint of the universal Church.

The Argentinian of Italian descent -- the 266th pope -- told the faithful he would visit a shrine to the Virgin Mary in his first act as pope on Thursday, less than a day after his election. The Vatican said he could head to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

White smoke earlier billowed from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel and the bells of St Peter's Basilica rang out, signalling a successful election had taken place after five rounds of voting -- one more than when Benedict was elected in 2005.

Vatican expert Bruno Bartoloni said Bergoglio was "a solid, pragmatic man who can do something concrete, notably to reform the Roman Curia" -- the internal workings of the Vatican.

"On the social level he is probably very open, while probably conservative on moral issues," he said, describing a duality typical of the cardinals named by Benedict and his much-loved predecessor John Paul II.

Benedict's reign was riven by scandals and the new pope will face immediate challenges -- chiefly stamping his authority on the Vatican machinery and trying to coax back a Catholic flock that is deserting churches across the West.

The scandal of hushed-up sexual abuse of children by paedophile priests going back decades has also cast its shadow over the conclave.

One US-based victims' group, SNAP, urged the new pope to declare "zero tolerance" for sex crimes.

The group noted that the Jesuit order from which he hails has a "troubled" track record on paedophilia, and said: "St Francis was the greatest reformer in the history of the Church, Pope Francis must do the same."

Benedict broke with tradition when he became the first pope to step down since the Middle Ages, saying he lacked the strength to continue. The 85-year-old German theologian has said he will retire to a former nunnery inside the Vatican.

Francis has already called his predecessor and they will meet soon, the Vatican said.

In one of his last acts as pope, Benedict issued a decree allowing cardinals to bring forward the date of a conclave in the event of a pope's resignation -- a move seen by many as potentially setting a precedent for ageing pontiffs in the future.

Vatican experts said the prospect of future resignations could have encouraged the cardinals to elect an older candidate in the knowledge that he could step down if his health fails.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Another senior communist rebel held in Philippines
    Another senior communist rebel held in Philippines

    The Philippine military said Sunday it had detained a senior communist rebel leader, the latest in a series of arrests or killings which have damaged one of the world's longest-running insurgencies. Military agents and police arrested Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, a central committee member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), at a home in Iloilo City on the central island of Panay on Saturday, military spokesmen said. …

  • Philippines vows action on Haiyan rebuilding after UN criticism
    Philippines vows action on Haiyan rebuilding after UN criticism

    The Philippines on Sunday vowed to take further action to aid those displaced by deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, following UN criticism that the government's response so far had been "inadequate". President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma said the government was not merely trying to find new housing for those displaced by the storm, which was the most powerful ever recorded to have hit land, but was also trying to ensure they would be relocated to safer ground. "This is our …

  • ASEAN, China discuss 'hotline' for sea dispute: Philippines
    ASEAN, China discuss 'hotline' for sea dispute: Philippines

    ASEAN and China are discussing setting up a "hotline" in case of an emergency regarding the territorial dispute over the South China Sea, a Philippine official said on Sunday. The proposed hotline was discussed during a meeting of senior diplomats from China and ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in Tianjin last week, said foreign department spokesman Charles Jose. The Philippines and fellow ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims over the South China …

  • AFP chief rallies troops in West Phl Sea
    AFP chief rallies troops in West Phl Sea

    Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri yesterday rallied the troops on maritime and territorial duties in the West Philippine Sea to remain steadfast in performing their mandate in securing the country’s western frontier. Iriberri made a visit to the Western Command (Wescom) in Palawan where officials briefed him on prevailing security developments in the region as well as other security concerns in the entire island province. Also tackled was the security challenges brought about by …

  • Strong El Niño threatens water supply
    Strong El Niño threatens water supply

    The government urged the public to conserve water in preparation for a possible strong El Niño by the end of the year until the first quarter of 2016. “Forecasts from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and other international climate agencies indicate a high probability that the current moderate El Niño affecting the country may intensify to strong in the last quarter of 2015 and may extend up to the first quarter of 2016,” read the …

  • Czech-Phl language translation exchange program launched
    Czech-Phl language translation exchange program launched

    This is contained in a memorandum of agreement between the Czech embassy and the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino signed by Ambassador Jaroslav Olsa Jr. and chairman Virgilio Almario. Under the agreement, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino is set to publish a selection of the best poems by Nobel Prize winning Czech poet Jaroslav Seifert, the second ever translation of a Czech writer published in the Philippines, following the Tagalog edition of the drama “Memorandum” (Ang Memorandum) by late Czech …

  • Intramuros bags Spain’s Heritage Award
    Intramuros bags Spain’s Heritage Award

    A Philippine institution is this year’s recipient of the Heritage Award by the Association of Heritage Cities of Spain. In a statement, the award body said it conferred the honor on the Intramuros Administration for undertaking efforts in recovering Philippine cultural heritage. The Intramuros Administration, founded in 1973, is an attached agency of the Department of Tourism aimed at the restoration and promotion of the walled city of Intramuros as a tourist destination. …

  • New storm won’t affect Phl weather – Pagasa
    New storm won’t affect Phl weather – Pagasa

    The new storm that may enter the Philippine area of responsibility next week will have no effect on the country’s weather in the next few days, according to the state weather bureau. Weather forecaster Jun Galang said the weather system with international name Soudelor was located 1,865 kilometers east of the Philippine area of responsibility as of yesterday afternoon. It packs maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 80 kph. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options