Pope Francis I (formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio)
VATICAN CITY (WUSA9) -- Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the new pope, announced the Catholic Church on Wednesday. Bergoglio, who is from Argentina, is the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He is also the first Jesuit pope.
Bergoglio, who is 76 years old and only has one lung, has chosen the name Francis. Francis is the name of an Italian saint who is identified with peace, poverty and a simple lifestyle, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reports that he was the runner-up to Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI, in the 2005 papal election.
Pope Francis's official biographer says he has been noted for "his keen political sensibility as well as a self-effacing humility" and he is "known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America," according to the Associated Press.
White smoke poured from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel shortly after 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday. The smoke indicated that the majority of the 115 cardinals elected a new Pope for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on the second day of the papal conclave in Rome.
Pope Francis appeared on the balcony over St. Peter's Square on Wednesday afternoon about an hour after the white smoke. He was greeted with cheers from the crowd.
Earlier in the day, the Associated Press reported that the new pope won't immediately move into the papal apartment, but stay at the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel on the edge of the gardens. He is expected to be there for a few weeks.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, released the following statement:
"Together with the faithful of the Church of Washington, I give thanks to God that we have a Pope and offer our joyful congratulations to our Holy Father Francis, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We pledge to him our loyalty and love as the Vicar of Christ, the visible head of the Church Universal and Servant of the servants of God.
Pope Francis is endowed with so many gifts that enhance his mission now as the Chief Shepherd of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. We thank God for the many intellectual talents and spiritual qualities, pastoral experience and effective ministry of the new Pope.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, he did not leave us orphans. Rather, he gave us his new Body, the Church, led by his Vicar, and he sent the Holy Spirit who gives his gifts to the successors of Peter and the other Apostles and sustains the Church today. The blessing the Holy Father brings to us - and the reason why we salute him so joyfully - is the reaffirmation of our Catholic faith, grounded in the apostolic succession and tradition.
Pope Francis is more than just the successor to Benedict XVI; he is the successor to all those who came before him in an unbroken line going all the way back to Peter. In Pope Francis, we recognize the successor to Peter and the visible sign of the unity of the Church spread throughout the whole world. He is the touchstone for the mission, message and tradition of the Church.
We offer thanks to God for sending us Pope Francis as the Church continues in the Year of Faith and as we face the challenges and opportunities of proposing the Gospel to today's world.
May God bring to fruitful completion what he has so wonderfully begun in the selection today of Pope Francis."
President Barack Obama also released a statement on the new pope:
"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years-that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith. We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world."
Here is a list of Pope Francis' predecessors in the 20th and 21st centuries:
Benedict XVI - April 19, 2005-Feb. 28, 2013.
John Paul II - Oct. 16, 1978-April 2, 2005.
John Paul I - Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 1978.
Paul VI - June 21, 1963-Aug. 6, 1978.
John XXIII - Oct. 28, 1958-June 3, 1963.
Pius XII - March 2, 1939-Oct. 9, 1958.
Pius XI - Feb. 6, 1922-Feb. 10, 1939.
Benedict XV - Sept. 3, 1914-Jan. 22, 1922.
Pius X - Aug. 4, 1903-Aug. 20, 1914.
Leo XIII - Feb. 20, 1878-July 20, 1903.