Story Summary

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio chosen as new pope

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has been elected the next pope, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced Wednesday night from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. He is the first South American pope. Until last year, Bergoglio was the archbishop of Buenos Aires before stepping down because of his age. He is 76.

The new pontiff, the Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, is taking the name Francis.

He replaces Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in February.

WGN-TV’s Dina Bair is live with the latest from St Peter’s Square.

How does the papal conclave work? Dina Bair explains here.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 10 updates

In Chicago, developments in Rome could not be more exciting if you are Latino and at a Jesuit school, two big firsts about the new Pope.

And students at one Chicago high school are thrilled.

Cristo Rey Catholic High School held an early morning assembly today. Teachers there want students to learn about the new Pope.  They think the he is more like the students at the school than the kids may know. Cristo Rey is Jesuit and the student population at the school is 100% Hispanic. The Pope comes from the same background. The deep connection, teachers hope, will inspire these young minds.

Faculty hope the kids will want to live their lives in service, as Pope Francis has over the years, by serving those in their own neighborhoods today.

The school also requires students to hold legitimate jobs outside of their class work, even taking the bus to work sometimes, just as the Pope did as a Cardinal in Buenos Aires. There, he also cooked his own meals and chose to live in a modest apartment.

The future of the church, the youth, is already responding with excitement about a man who has risen to such heights and who comes from a similar place. He gives them hope that great things lie ahead for them as well.

On Pope Francis’s first day, Rome still abuzz with hope.

WGNTV’s Dina Bair was in the city for the momentous day.

The newly-elected Pope Francis shows his independent streak.

He began his first full day as the pontiff-elect on Thursday by slipping quietly into the Basilica of St. Mary Major. He snuck into the building through a side door. He laid down flowers in the chapel of Salus Popoli Romani and prayed. He left about 30 minutes later.

WGN’s Dina Bair has been covering the papal election in Vatican City, and talked with the parish priest who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pray with Pope Francis.

“We are all happy. He’s a friendly guy. We got what we prayed for,” said the priest.

While people across the world watched the emergence of the new pope, one family just missed it.

The Houstons left St. Peter’s Square shortly before the new pope was introduced. They were there for about three hours, but decided to leave because of the windy and rainy conditions.

WGN News Writer C. Hayes published this report.

Pope Francis on Thursday emphasized church advancement in his first Mass with the cardinals who elected him as pontiff a day earlier.

With solemnity, he delivered a homily about moving the Catholic Church forward to the cardinal electors, who were dressed in light yellow robes. Altar servers burned incense in the Sistine Chapel, the setting for the Mass.

He didn’t appear to use a script and kept the sermon short, calling on the cardinals to have courage.

“When we don’t walk, we are stuck. When we don’t build on the rock, what happens? It’s what happens to children when they build a sand castle and it all then falls down,” the new pontiff said.

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess without the cross, we are not disciples of Christ. We are mundane,” he said. “We are all but disciples of our Lord.

“I would like for all of us, after these days of grace, that we find courage to walk in the presence of God … and to build the church with the blood of Christ,” he continued. “Only this way will the church move forward.”

When Jorge Bergoglio stepped onto the balcony at the Vatican on Wednesday evening to reveal himself as the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, he made history as the first non-European pope of the modern era, the first from Latin America, the first Jesuit and the first to assume the name Francis.

Thursday has been low-key by comparison.

Francis began the day by praying at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, a place of special significance for the Jesuits.

His next public appearance is likely to be Sunday. The new pontiff will “very probably” celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s and then deliver the traditional Angelus blessing, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

But it won’t be until Tuesday that Francis will be formally installed as pope.

That’s by design. The day coincides with the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of Italy.

Already a picture is emerging of a humble man who shies away from the trappings of his new status and is devoted to his pastoral duties.

As pope, Francis will have plenty to deal with. He takes the helm of a Roman Catholic Church that has been rocked in recent years by sex abuse by priests, and claims of corruption and infighting among the church hierarchy.

Reflecting the urgency of those concerns, a group representing the alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests has written an open letter to Pope Francis requesting a meeting.

“Your predecessor met only a few times with a few carefully chosen victims in tightly choreographed settings, as he visited nations where this crisis had reached a fever pitch,” the letter from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests states.

“We write today seeking a different kind of meeting — one in which our respective organizations — yours, huge and struggling, and ours, small and struggling — can begin to work together to safeguard children across the globe.”

Pope Francis called Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the phone Wednesday night, and will visit him at Castel Gandolfo at some point soon, but not in the next couple of days, Lombardi said.

The new pontiff will meet with all the cardinals, not just those who were eligible to vote for him, on Friday and will hold an audience with the media on Saturday, Lombardi said.

Conservative reformer

The 76-year-old, who served as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first pope to take the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, revered among Catholics for his work with the poor.

The pontiff is considered a straight shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church’s most social conservative wing.

As a cardinal, he clashed with the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.

He was runner-up in the 2005 papal conclave, behind then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The new pope brings together the first and the developing worlds. Latin America is home to 480 million Catholics.

By choosing him, the cardinals sent a strong message about where the future of the church may lie.

Francis’ first public appearance as pope — when he appealed for the crowds to pray for him before he gave a blessing — suggested a “different pastoral style” in comparison with the more academic approach of Benedict, said Lombardi.

Francis is someone who has had “a day-to-day link with the population and ordinary people” during his many years at the head of a large diocese in Buenos Aires, he said.

He also sought to dampen concerns prompted by media reports that the new pope has only one lung.

Although Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man, the whole lung was not removed and the new pope is in good health, Lombardi said.

CNN iReporter Cesar Sotolongo in Lima, Peru, said the election of a Latin American pope, particularly from the Jesuit order, marked “a new chapter” for the Catholic Church.

Originally from Florida, Sotolongo also has his own advice for Francis: “The pope should shape the church with what he has been doing during his career (as an example),” he said. “Stay in contact with the people, communicate clearly, promote the unification of faith and … represent the word of Jesus.”

A Jesuit pope

Born in Buenos Aires to an Italian immigrant father, Francis is known for his simplicity.

Details given by Lombardi on Thursday of Francis’ first hours as pope reinforce that impression — one which may go down well with his global flock, many of whom live in poverty or are feeling the squeeze of austerity.

Francis stood, rather than sitting on a throne, to receive the oath of allegiance from his fellow cardinals after his election, and for his appearance on the balcony wore just a white cassock and a simple cross, eschewing gold or jewels, Lombardi said.

Also, on the ride back from the Sistine Chapel to the Santa Marta residence, he declined the papal car that had been prepared for him and instead took the bus with other cardinals, Lombardi said.

And Francis thanked the other cardinals at dinner, joking, “May God forgive you for what you have done,” Lombardi said.

Francis will remove the seals from the official papal apartments Thursday but will not move in until renovations are complete, he added. The new pontiff will live in a suite at the Santa Marta residence until the papal apartments are ready.

Back in Buenos Aires, Francis chose to live in an apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, passed on a chauffeured limousine, took the bus to work and cooked his own meals.

He was ordained by the Jesuits in 1969. He became co-archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1997 and sole archbishop of that city one year later.

He was made a cardinal in 2001 and served as president of the Argentine bishops conference from 2005 to 2011.

As a Jesuit, Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus, one of the biggest and most important orders in the church.

Jesuits are recognized for their exceptional educational institutions and focus on social justice.

“Jesuits are characterized by their service to the church … but trying to avoid positions of power,” said Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, who is also a Jesuit. “I am absolutely convinced that we have a pope who wants to serve.

“His election was the election of a rejection of power.”

‘Most stunning’ choice of name

His selection of the name of Pope Francis is “the most stunning” choice and “precedent shattering,” CNN Vatican analyst John Allen said. “The new pope is sending a signal that this will not be business as usual.”

The name symbolizes “poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding the Catholic Church,” Allen said.

Miguel Diaz, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, agreed, calling the new pontiff’s choice of names “very significant.”

“Francis of Assisi is the saint who opted for the little ones in God’s kingdom,” he said. “This man represents a change and could potentially be a great gift for leadership, servant leadership, for all of us within the church and society.”

It is something the Catholic Church says it desperately needs.

“If you look back over the past years — the crisis of abuse, the scandals here at the Vatican, financial mismanagement, questions about the leaks and everything — when you step back from it all, every crisis we faced ultimately is a crisis of holiness that we’ve missed the calling,” said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, the Vatican’s deputy spokesman.

“We’ve moved far away from what we’re supposed to be.”

World reacts

Word of the election of Pope Francis, who was not considered a frontrunner among analysts, quickly spread around the globe, with everyone from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to U.S. President Barack Obama offering congratulations.

“As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day,” Obama said.

Ban said the new pope shares common goals with the United Nations, from the promotion of peace to social justice. “We also share the conviction that we can only resolve the interconnected challenges of today’s world through dialogue,” he said.

There is likely to be no shortage of invitations for Pope Francis to travel to the four corners of the globe in the pursuit of such goals.

Syria’s Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch, who heads the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, on Thursday invited Francis to visit Syria, Jerusalem and Lebanon for peace and reconciliation, according to Syria’s official news agency.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also urged him to visit the Middle East.

“He’ll be a welcome guest in the Holy Land, as a man of inspiration that can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area,” said Peres.

Nowhere was the reaction to Francis’ selection as pope more heartfelt than in Latin America.

“I am truly still very surprised … not just that a Latino pope came out, but that he is an Argentinian from Buenos Aires,” the Rev. Eduardo Mangiarotti, an Argentine priest, told CNN en Español.

It’s a “huge event” not only for the church in Latin America but worldwide, he said.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, greeted the selection with “extraordinary joy.”

“I have been hoping that we would move into the Southern Hemisphere, and especially I think many of us had hoped … we would have a pope who would come from Latin America,” he said.

“One-half of the Catholics in the world are from Latin America, so this is a way the cardinals have very graciously acknowledged that.”

Filipino priest and CNN iReporter Joel Camaya was among the tens of thousands who witnessed history Wednesday night in St. Peter’s Square, as Francis emerged on the balcony.

“The multitude, from all parts of the world, were ecstatic to be in the square for this beautiful occasion,” he said. “This was one event that left me teary-eyed and thanking God for making me a Catholic.”

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Local Jesuits are thrilled to see one of their own rise to the top of the Roman Catholic Church.

Wgn’s Amy Rutledge spent the day at the Pilsen Jesuit Academy and has more on the story.

DePaul University assistant professor, Alexander Stummvoll, talks pope selection.

The bells at Holy Name Cathedral proclaimed the news that a new pope had been chosen Wednesday.

The selection of the first pope from the Western Hemisphere was met with joy and optimism by Chicago’s Catholic faithful.

Local Latinos took heart from the selection of the first pope from South America, and saw it as a sign the Catholic church is finally recognizing a continent where almost half the world’s Roman Catholics reside.

Others say they are thrilled that the new pope took his name, Francis, from St. Francis of Assisi, who stood up to his pope in the 12th and 13th centuries to force needed reforms in the Catholic church.

Voice of the Faithful representative, Tony Jannotta, stops by WGN to discuss pope selection.

Church Historian and Attorney Dan Cheely joins WGN Morning News

A church in Chicago is named for the same saint as the new Pope.

Early Thursday, WGN-TV’s Frank Holland visited St. Francis of Assisi parish in University Village.

He spoke with a priest about the impact a pope from Latin America will have on the Hispanic community.

Mexico’s Catholic bishops have released a statement praising the election of the new pope.