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Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected Pope Francis I

  • Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the Catholic Church’s new Pope on Wednesday.

    As white smoke emanated from the Sistine Chapel chimney, signalling the new Pope's election, hundreds converged into Rome's St Peter's Square to catch a glimpse of their new leader.

    Appearing on a balcony over the square, he gave a blessing to roaring praise from the crowds gathered below.

    He went on to ask the faithful to "pray to God so that he can bless me," and called on the world to set off on a path of love and fraternity.

    He is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be pontiff and will call himself Francis I, reminiscent of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th century Italian reformer and patron saint of animals, who lived in poverty.

    Pope Francis, 76, replaces Benedict XVI, who stepped down last month at the age of 85, citing he was not strong enough to lead the Church.

    His election was met with applause at the cathedral in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis' home city.

    Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama sent "warm wishes" on behalf of the American people to the newly elected pontiff, praising the Argentine as "the first pope from the Americas."

    Pope Francis is viewed as a conservative but known for his humility. He has spent almost his entire career in Argentina.

    The 115 cardinals involved in the election since Tuesday afternoon had already held four inconclusive votes.

    At least 77, or two-thirds, would have had to vote for a single candidate in order for him to be elected Pope.

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