Argentine Jorge Bergoglio elected Pope Francis

Pope Francis and cardinals pray from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis was named Wednesday the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Francis and cardinals pray from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis was named Wednesday the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Luca Bruno/AP Photo

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Argentine Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope, the first ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.

After announcing "Habemus Papum" — "We have a pope!" — a cardinal standing on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on Wednesday revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name. Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict XVI — who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.

The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

Cardinals elected a new pope to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on Wednesday, overcoming deep divisions to select the 266th pope in a remarkably fast conclave.

Tens of thousands of people who braved cold rain to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel jumped in joy when white smoke poured out, many shouting "Habemus Papam!" or "We have a pope!" — as the bells of St. Peter's Basilica and churches across Rome tolled, signaling a pontiff had been chosen.

Elected on the fifth ballot, he was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.

A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.

The conclave played out against the backdrop of the first papal resignation in 600 years and revelations of mismanagement, petty bickering, infighting and corruption in the Holy See bureaucracy. Those revelations, exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year, had divided the College of Cardinals into camps seeking a radical reform of the Holy See's governance and those defending the status quo.

The names mentioned most often as "papabile" — a cardinal who has the stuff of a pope — include Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, an intellect in the vein of Benedict but with a more outgoing personality, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican's important bishops' office who is also scholarly but reserved like Benedict.

Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer is liked by the Vatican bureaucracy but not by all of his countrymen. And Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary has the backing of European cardinals who have twice elected him as head of the European bishops' conference.

On the more pastoral side is Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, the favorite of the Italian press, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the back-slapping, outgoing archbishop of New York who has admitted himself that his Italian is pretty bad — a drawback for a job that is conducted almost exclusively in the language.

In this Feb. 14, 2013, AP file photo, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio celebrates a Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Cardinal Bergoglio was named Pope Francis Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
In this Feb. 14, 2013, AP file photo, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio celebrates a Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Cardinal Bergoglio was named Pope Francis Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Natasha Pisarenko/AP Photo
Crowds cheer after white smoke billowed from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13.
Crowds cheer after white smoke billowed from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13. Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo
White smoke emerges from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13. The white smoke indicates that the new pope has been elected.
White smoke emerges from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13. The white smoke indicates that the new pope has been elected. Gregorio Borgia/AP Photo
White smoke billows from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
White smoke billows from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Andrew Medichini/AP Photo
Crowds cheer after white smoke billowed from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
Crowds cheer after white smoke billowed from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Dmitri Lovetsky/AP Photo
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Gregorio Borgio/AP Photo
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POLL

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected pope Wednesday. He is the first pontiff from outside of Europe in modern times and will be known as Pope Francis. What do you think?

His election is a good sign that the church is moving in a new direction.

37%

His election makes sense. Catholicism is on the wane in Europe.

5%

As an animal lover, I like the name he chose.

6%

I was hoping an Italian would be elected in a return to tradition.

2%

To get my attention, he has to openly tackle Vatican scandals and sex abuse.

50%

Number of votes: 616