76-Year-Old Argentinian Cardinal Bergoglio Named New Pope, First Ever from Americas
In a major surprise, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian cardinal predicted by almost no one, has been named Pope by the Papal Conclave. He will be the first-ever pope from the Western Hemipshere, and will take the name Francis I. Bergoglio was announced to a packed and cheering St. Peter's Square minutes ago, following the traditional burning of white smoke through the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
Bergoglio, a 76-year-old Jesuit and the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was a "close second" when Benedict was chosen in 2005, according to the Times' Rachel Donadio. Generally, Papal "runners-up" aren't chosen by the following conclave—it's seen as insulting to the previous pope—but Bergoglio is thought to appeal to both hard-liners and moderates in the College of Cardinals, according to John Allen of National Catholic Reporter:
He appealed to conservatives in the College of Cardinals as a man who had held the line against liberalizing currents among the Jesuits, and to moderates as a symbol of the church's commitment to the developing world.
Back in 2005, Bergoglio drew high marks as an accomplished intellectual, having studied theology in Germany. His leading role during the Argentine economic crisis burnished his reputation as a voice of conscience, and made him a potent symbol of the costs globalization can impose on the world's poor.
Bergoglio's reputation for personal simplicity also exercised an undeniable appeal – a Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop's palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals.
Francis I seems unlikely to be a reform pope. He's older; it's doubtful his papacy will be long; and his career up until now has largely been a model of moderation if not conservatism. Though there's a story involving Cardinal Bergoglio washing and kissing the feet of AIDS patients at a hospice in 2001, he worked against recent legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in his home-country, and has similarly opposed gay adoption. In 2005, he was accused of conspiring with Argentina's military dictatorship in the 1970s to kidnap two Jesuits, but no evidence was produced to verify the claim; regardless of his conduct under the junta, Bergoglio was never a subscriber of left-wing liberation theology like many South and Central American priests of his era.
Meanwhile, on Twitter:
HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM— Pontifex (@Pontifex) March 13, 2013