News.msn.com reported that Cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday night selected Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope to succeed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and lead the church through a time of crisis.
Bergoglio, new spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, was chosen on the close of second day of the conclave of cardinals. Thick white smoke billowed from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel and church bells rang at the Vatican, signaling to the world there is a new pontiff. A church official announced "Habemus Papam!" (Latin for "We have a pope") and then introduced him to the world in Latin.
Bergoglio chose the papal name of Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th-century reformer who lived in poverty, thereby connecting with one of the patron saints of Italy, the homeland of all popes of the last few centuries until 1978.
The new pontiff is a first achiever in many ways: the first Jesuit pontiff, the first from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
In his first public remarks, Francis greeted a cheering crowd in St. Peter’s Square, “Brothers and sisters, good evening."
"You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the Earth. Thank you for the welcome," he said, according to a translation by Reuters.
He thanked his predecessor and led the crowd in prayer for him. Francis then continued:
"And now, let us start this journey, bishop and people, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which leads all the Churches in charity, a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.
After a few seconds of silent prayer, he then delivered his blessing and departed.
According to MaxNews, Bergoglio, 76, has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests. The archbishop of Buenos Aires reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope.
The New Pope and the End Times
The selection of the new pope has aroused considerable speculation as to what role he will play in the unfolding drama of the end times. Some observers speculate that the newly elected Pope Francis will be the last pope, the pontiff who will oversee the Catholic Church at “the end of days.” Many also speculate that the pontiff will be “Petrus Romanus, the 112th pope,” the individual spoken of by the Catholic Saint Malachy, 12th‑century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, who allegedly in 1139 AD in a vision described all future popes who would oversee the Catholic Church.
Though not a part of official Catholic dogma or church teachings, this “Prophecy of the Popes” is well known by Vatican officials and church scholars. The prophecy describes the Catholic Church's last Pontiff as overseeing a new era, and one that will be met with great difficulty and destruction: "In extreme persecution the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter, the Roman . . . Who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible or fearsome judge will judge his people. The End."
Other observers of the times and seasons speculate as to the identity of the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet, both of which are mentioned in the Book of Revelation, and they will be observing the unfolding events within the Catholic Church in light of possible connections with these figures. Within the Book of Revelation, also known as The Apocalypse of John, are references to the destruction of the City of Seven Hills (Rome) and to the many trials that will be faced by humanity ahead of the final judgment. The sequence of events includes the return of Christ or “the rapture,” the rise of the Anti-Christ, the seven years of tribulations, and ultimately "the end of days." With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and now with the subsequent selection of Pope Francis I, we find much to ponder and consider as the drama of the end times unfolds before our eyes.
Click here to read a related article concerning Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.