Photo By Aibdescalzo (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Puffs of black smoke from the Vatican chimney on the evening of Tuesday, March 12, the first day of the papal conclave, indicated that no new Pope had been chosen. Papal scholars assumed that the election of a new Pope would take at least three or four days. The second day of the papal conclave dawned as crowds of the faithful gathered in the rain outside St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, hoping for good news. Black smoke emerged from the chimney twice on the morning of Wednesday, March 13, as the conclave failed again to elect a Pope. The cardinals took lunch before reassembling at 4:30 to vote again.
White smoke emerged from the chimney a little after 7:00 p.m. local time as the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica began tolling. A Pope had been chosen. The crowd began chanting “Long Live the Pope!” as the world waited for the announcement of the conclave’s decision.
At about a quarter after 8:00 p.m. Cardinal Protodeacon Jean-Louis Tauran emerged on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square and announced the conclave’s choice of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will take the papal name Francis I. Minutes later, the new Pope himself emerged on the balcony to greet the crowd and lead the faithful in prayer.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the archbishop of Buenos Aires before being appointed a cardinal and moving to Rome. A conservative clergyman, Bergoglio has opposed gay marriage and maintained traditional Catholic views regarding contraception and abortion. He has, however, made a name for himself as an advocate for the poor. While still an archbishop, he spoke out against the Argentinean presidential regime, which he believed, failed to address the nation’s wealth inequalities and the needs of the underclass.
Bergoglio is known for his modesty, intellectualism, deep spirituality and restraint. As an archbishop in Argentina, he eschewed the luxurious archbishop’s palace for an unassuming apartment, cooked his own meals, and used public transportation instead of the private limo available to him. Bergoglio is considered to have come in second in the last papal conclave, which saw Joseph Ratzinger elected Pope Benedict XVI.