Roman Catholic cardinals elected the church's first South American leader Wednesday, choosing a conservative with "great compassion" who is the son of a railway worker.
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will be known as Pope Francis I.
The 76-year-old - who is also the first Jesuit, and the first non-European pope for more than 1,000 years - was introduced to the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
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In Italian, he joked with the rain-soaked crowd before delivering his blessing, saying: "As you know the duty of the conclave is to give Rome a bishop. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world."
“Pray for me and I will see you soon," he added, asking Catholics to also pray for his predecessor Benedict XVI, who abdicated on Feb. 28. "Have a good evening and rest well.”
About an hour before Francis emerged, white smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel and bells rang out across Rome to signal a decision had been made, prompting cheers and wild applause from tens of thousands who had gathered in St. Peter's Square.
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