(AP) —The first pope ever from the Americas was chosen Wednesday afternoon, after only a two-day and five-ballot conclave.
Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, from Argentina, reportedly received the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger, the last pope, in the 2005 papal election.
The former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, has had a lifetime of teaching and leading priest in Latin America and has shown a keen political sensibility as well as a self-effacing humility, according to his official biographer, Sergio Rubin.
He has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work - overseeing churches and priests – that some say is an essential skill for a pope.
The archbishop of Oklahoma City says cardinals delivered a "wonderful surprise" by selecting as the new pope a cardinal from the New World.
The former Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio of Argentina is now Pope Francis. Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley said the church in Latin America is strong and committed to a "new evangelization" and that Francis will be an effective leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
According to the Glenmary Research Center, there were 178,430 Catholics in Oklahoma in 2010, or about 5 percent of the state's population.
Coakley said interest in the papal election from all over the globe was a reminder that the Church is universal and that the pope is a sign of its unity.
Francis, the name the new pope has chosen, is a much-beloved Italian saint who is identified with peace, poverty and a simple lifestyle.
Bergoglio is the first pontiff from Latin America and the first pontiff to adopt the name of Francis — the name of the rich young man from Assisi who renounced wealth and founded the Franciscan order of friars in 1290. The choice could foretell the pope's priorities in striving to bring a sense of serenity to the troubled church.
Choosing a name shared by one of Italy's patron saints also ties the new pope to Italy, the homeland of all popes of the last few centuries until 1978.