I came back from an appointment to find that white smoke was wafting from the Vatican Chimney.

Pope Francis 2

From the Globe and Mail:

Argentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will be known as Francis.

At 7:07 p.m., local time, white smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel, signalling that a new pope had been elected after only two days of voting and five ballots. It came as a surprise, because there was no frontrunner going into the conclave and Vatican watchers had expected another day of voting after two inconclusive votes this morning.

St. Peter’s Square erupted in shouts and cheers and clapping when the white smoke emerged. The bells of St. Peter’s basilica began to ring immediately after the white smoke went up.

The crowd went wild with enthusiasm. Andrea Mascetti, 27, a Roman lawyer, could not believe his luck. He arrived in the square only minutes before the smoke was spotted. “I was just in time, ” he said. “We just saw history.”

At 8:12 p.m., local time, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran emerged onto the balcony facing St. Peter’s Square to announce the identity of Francis.

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 BenedictXVI’s surprise resignation.

My son and I became Catholics in 2010, so this is the first “new Pope” we have seen elected as members of the faith. We are both watching Pope Francis’ first address on Fox News, and Blake commented that there was no number after his name.

It is said that the name the Pope takes is significantly historically and spiritually. For example, blessed John Paul II took his papal name to honor his immediate predecessor. It will be interesting to see which Catholic “Francis” that the new Pope wanted to honor: St. Francis of Assisi, the animal-loving Italian friar who is one of the most venerated religious figures in history, or perhaps St. Francis Xavier, who was known for his missionary work and co-founded the Society of Jesus (aka Jesuits).

Both of these saints shook up their world, and it is said that the the former Argentine Cardinal is a potential reformer. The new Pope is the first from the Americas, which seems to indicate that “inclusion” incorporating the dynamic church in Latin America was an aspect guiding the final conclave vote.

Pope Francis is known for his humility. During his initial address, the Pope bent down and asked the people to pray for him.

As Cardinal, Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle has contributed to his reputation for humility. He lives in a small apartment, rather than in the palatial bishop’s residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and he reportedly cooks his own meals.

And, indeed, my son and I are. Pope Francis has much hard work ahead. God bless and keep him, and all people who are following today’s news.

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