Venezuela's interim president knows how the first South American Pope was elected: the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez swayed Jesus. Nicolas Maduro said Chavez influenced Jesus, who then inspired the Cardinals to elect their first pope from the South American continent. In his own words, which are brilliant:

"We know that our commander ascended to those heights and is face to face with Christ. Something must have influenced [Jesus] to call for a South American pope… Some new hand arrived and Christ said, 'Now is the opportunity for South America,' it seems to us."

The conclave elected Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the Roman Catholic Church's 266th pope, after the former pope resigned suddenly. He will be the first Jesuit pope to lead as well as the first non-European pope in over 1,200 years.

Maduro made this proclamation in Caracas on national television, at the opening of an international book fair, because you never know when you are going to make these big picture realizations. Chavez, who died at age 58 of unspecified cancer on March 5, had handpicked Maduro as his successor. Maduro will face opposition from Henrique Capriles Radonski in a special election April 14. Maduro continued his speech, suggesting that Chavez could be pulling for him with the forces that really determine elections:

He said Chavez could "call a constitutional assembly in heaven at any moment to change the [Catholic] church on Earth so the people — the pure people of Christ — may govern the world."

[UPI, image via Getty/AP]