The New York Times reported today that the Roman Catholic Church has chosen a new pope to lead their worldwide flock of over 2.1 billion. White smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican signaling the election of a new pontiff by the assembled Cardinals. The name of the 266th pope was traditionally not announced until later, when he stepped out onto a balcony on the front of St. Peter's Basilica.
The Roman Catholic Church has elected Pope Francis, who comes from Argentina where he reigned as Archbishop. Pope Francis is known as a humble reformer and Vatican insiders note he is the first Jesuit pope in centuries. The 76-year-old Cardinal previously lived in Buenos Aires and is the child of Italian parents.
Pope Francis takes over the Roman Catholic Church during a difficult spot in its long history. Their credibility has been shattered in most civilized countries after a non-stop series of sex scandals ruined their moral authority. Just this week it was reported the Vatican had purchased Europe’s largest gay sauna in Rome. The church also finds itself at odds with shifting public opinion on gay rights, abortion and other important social issues.
Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world with the announcement of his retirement and assumption of the title Pope Emeritus. He cited health problems as the cause of his unprecedented departure from office. This was the first time in over 600 years a pope had retired, and only the second time in recorded history.