Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, 76, chose the papal name Francis. He is the first non-European Roman Catholic Pope and the 266th pope of the Catholic Church.
He has served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998, and became a cardinal in 2001. Born in Buenos Aires, Bergoglio has a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires. He became a Jesuit priest after receiving his chemistry degree.
During the 2005 conclave, Bergoglio had the second highest number of votes on each of the four ballots, according to the Catholic News Service.
The decision by the 115 voting cardinals gathered in Vatican City of who will lead the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world was made relatively quickly, with the cardinals only starting to gather yesterday. On day two, white smoke could be seen streaming out of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, signaling that a new pope had been elected.
The cardinal conclave this week is special in that the former pope is still alive and is the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down from the position of Pontiff. The last Roman Catholic Church head to do so was Pope Gregory XII, who did so to end the Great Schism when several clerics claimed the position.
Benedict announced that he would step down from the office on Feb. 11, citing “advanced aged” as the reason for his resignation. He officially stepped down at the end of last month. Benedict, who is 85, said, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”