Jorge Mario Bergoglio now Pope Francis I leading 1.2 billion Catholics

(REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being elected by the conclave of cardinals, in a photograph released by Osservatore Romano at the Vatican, March 13, 2013.

It's official. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of  Buenos Aires, is the new pope. He will be known as Pope Francis I.

Bergoglio, who is 76, was elected as the new Pope Wednesday. He is the first Pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit. 

Pope Francis I made his first address before a crowd of over 100,000 gathered in St. Peter's Square. 

Standing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis I asked the people to bless him as the new pope and also led the crowd in prayer for Pope Benedict XVI. 

"I ask you to pray so that the Lord may bless me. The people's prayer to bless his bishop. Pray silently for me," said Pope Francis I.

One hour has passed since the debut of Pope Francis I and already Catholic commentators have been highlighting his "humility."

The fact that Bergoglio chose Francis as his papal name indicatesa a humble spirit, according to media commentators.

The new pontiff chose not to wear the ornate red stole, or robes worn by the Pope, but made his debut in a simple white vestment.

He also bowed before the crowds and millions watching online, also a sign of humility and asked them to pray for him. 

The new Pope is also known to be close the poor and was said to have cooked his own meals. 

The news of a new pope was confirmed by the white smoke rising from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, where 115 cardinals have met in the papal conclave since Tuesday. 

Thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square let out a joyous cheer as the white smoke appeared, signaling that at least 77 cardinals reached a consensus on the next pope to succeed Pope Benedict XV I. 

The first thing he did when he appeared on the balcony before tens of thousands of cheering faithful was to offer prayers for Benedict.

Before the conclave, Vatican insiders named Italy's Angelo Scola and Brazil's Odilo Scherer as top contenders, according to the Reuters news agency. Other front runners include Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of São Paulo and Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana, who would be the first black pope if elected. From the U.S., Cardinals Sean O'Malley of Boston and Timothy Dolan of New York are considered among the top choices for the papacy.

However, Bergoglio who is fluent in Italian emerged as the final pick. 

Cardinals arrived at a two-thirds vote after the fifth conclave vote, a very swift ballot. 

(Photo: Reuters / Dylan Martinez)White smoke rises from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected at the Vatican, March 13, 2013. White smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel and the bells of St Peter's Basilica rang out on Wednesday, signaling that Roman Catholic Cardinals had ended their conclave and elected a pope to succeed Benedict XVI.

Please check back for more updates from Ecumenical News on this breaking news. 

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