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Viva Pope Francis: The First South American Pope

Newly elected Pope Francis appears on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on March 13. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

It took cardinals only two days to elect the new leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics on Wednesday afternoon: Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first pope from South America. He took the name Pope Francis.

A church official announced “habemus papam” or “we have a pope” in Latin, and Bergoglio’s name. He appeared at the Vatican balcony to address the crowds gathered:

As translated: “Dear brothers and sisters, good evening. It seems the cardinals have chosen a pope who is from far away, but here I am,” he said, smiling. “I would like to thank you for your embrace.”

After saying prayers for Benedict XVI and the church, he said:

“Let us begin this journey together. It is a journey of friendship, love, trust and faith. Let us pray always for one another and for the whole world — let us be one brotherhood. I wish that this journey for the Church starts today.”

He asked for prayers, in silence, for himself as well.

Bergoglio, 76, served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, where he was born, since 1998. He was appointed as a cardinal in 2001.

White smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel and its bells rang in verification, as a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square to await his appearance at the basilica balcony. Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images.

The newly named Pope Francis said he was “immensely happy” to be the new pope.

Pope Benedict XVI, who held the papacy for eight years, announced his resignation last month. He will now go as “pope emeritus” Benedict XVI and will continue to live in the Vatican in Rome.

We’ll have more about the new pope on Wednesday’s NewsHour. Read all of the NewsHour’s Papal Transition coverage.

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