Philip Pullella and Barry Moody of Reuters are reporting that the Roman Catholic Church has chosen Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as its new pope and that he will take the name Pope Francis I. The decision was made by a conclave of 115 cardinals much earlier than expected, and in contradiction to many speculations made before the elections. At 76 years old, Pope Francis is much older than the assumed age of the new pope, and he was not considered a likely contender during discussions before the vote. In addition to being the first pope from the Americas, Francis is also the first Jesuit pope. Although considered moderate, and even conservative by some, many hope the new pontiff will be instrumental in balancing sides and reforming many of the circumstances that have been said to have led to the abdication of Pope Benedict.
Pullella and Moody write:
The secret conclave began on Tuesday night with a first ballot and four ballots were held on Wednesday. Francis obtained the required two thirds majority in the fifth ballot.
Following a split ballot when they were first shut away amid the chapel’s Renaissance splendour on Tuesday evening, the cardinal electors held a first full day of deliberations on Wednesday. Black smoke rose after the morning session to signal no decision.
The previous four popes were all elected within two or three days.
Seven ballots have been required on average over the last nine conclaves. Benedict was clear frontrunner in 2005 and elected after only four ballots.
This news brief was written by Kaitlin Higgins.