The wait is over for hundreds of Catholics in Fresno and billions all over the world today as the Vatican has elected their new leader, the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
White smoke was seen at 2:06 PM ET (11:06 PT) coming from the Vatican in Rome, Italy, prompting a massive crowd of Catholics and fellow citizens to gather in Vatican Square to get the opportunity to get their first glimpse of the new Pope.
Ever since the announcement of the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, which took effect on February 28, 2013, talk and speculation over the conclave’s decision has been intense and never-ending and the 155 cardinals making up the conclave went into deliberation yesterday, March 12, 2013. But now, at long last, the speculation can be put to rest as, in what is certain to be one of the most important moments of 2013, Pope Francis I has been selected to lead the Catholic Church into its near future.
As outlined by The Huffington Post, Francis I appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at Wednesday more than an hour after white smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 2:05 EDT (7:05 p.m. CET) to signal that a new pope had been selected. Speaking from the balcony, he gave his first address as pope, the traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the "City and the World"), as crowds waved, cried and cheered for the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
When he appeared before the crowd, he issued a prayer for the church, the papacy and for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis I is the first Latin America Pope to be elected by the Vatican, following much speculation over the likelihood of the election of a North American Pope for the first time. Undoubtedly, this announcement may be seen as a disappointment for some, but even so signs are clear both form his career and his lifestyle that this is a man that is open to change and reform.
According to his Wikipedia page (of which this examiner is only presenting a limited, edited account), Pope Francis I, formally Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, age 76, was born on December 17, 1936 as one of five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife. His 44 year career in the Church has been quite an eventful one.
After studying at the seminary in Villa Devoto, he entered the Society of Jesus on March 11, 1958. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 13, 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. Impressed with his leadership skills, the Society of Jesus promoted Bergoglio and he served as provincial for Argentina from 1973 to 1979. He was transferred in 1980 to become the rector of the seminray in San Miguel where had had studied. He served in that capacity until 1986. Bergoglio succeeded Cardinal Quarracino on February 28, 1998. He was concurrently named ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina, who lacked their own prelate. Pope John Paul II summoned the newly named archbishop to the consistory of February 21, 2001 in Vatican City and elevated Bergoglio with the papal honors of a cardinal. He was named to the Cardinal-Priest of Saint Robert Bellarmino.
As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to several administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He served on the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Congregation of Societies of Apostolic Life. Bergoglio became a member of the Commission on Latin American and the Family Council.
Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio, considered papabile himself, participated in the 2005 papal conclave as a cardinal elector, the conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. He had participated in the funeral of Pope John Paul II and acted as a regent alongside the College of Cardinals, governing the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church during the interregnum sede vacante period.
During the 2005 Synod of Bishops, he was elected a member of the Post-Synodal council. Catholic journalist John L. Allen, Jr. reported that Bergoglio was a frontrunner in the 2005 Conclave.
On November 8, 2005, Bergoglio was elected President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–2008) by a large majority of the Argentine bishops. He was reelected on November 11, 2008.
It is interesting to note that as cardinal, Bergoglio was known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. He chose to live in a small apartment, rather than in the palatial bishop's residence. He also gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and he reported cooked his own meals.
According to The Huffington Post, for his first few weeks as pope, Francis will live in a temporary apartment away from the official papal residence. Francis will stay there while the official papal apartment is renovated. The apartment was sealed after Benedict's resignation and church rules say it can't be reopened for any reason until there is a new pope.
This examiner proudly wishes the new Pope, the Catholic Church, and the Catholic people, all the best, and may God bless him and his reign for years to come.