VATICAN CITY - The new Pope Francis -- Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina -- has appeared on the balcony above St. Peter's Square, waving to the tens of thousands of people who were gathered below.
Francis looked stunned as he faced the cheering crowd. He asked for prayers for himself and for retired Pope Benedict, whose resignation paved the way for the conclave that chose the Argentinian today.
After announcing "Habemus Papum" (hah-BAY'-moos PAH'-pum) -- or "We have a pope!" -- a cardinal on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name.
The crowd had braved cold, rainy weather to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel. They jumped for joy when white smoke poured from the chimney a few minutes past 7 p.m. Chants of "Long live the pope!" arose from the faithful, many with tears in their eyes.
Francis is the first pontiff from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
VATICAN CITY - Francis, the name the new pope has chosen, is a much-beloved Italian saint who is identified with peace, poverty and a simple lifestyle.
Jorge Bergoglio is the first pontiff from Latin America and the first pontiff to adopt the name of Francis, 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. St. Francis is said to have been called by God to repair a church in ruins.
Choosing the name of 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.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is offering warm wishes to newly elected Pope Francis.
Obama says the selection of the first pope from the Americas speaks to the strength and vitality of the region. He says millions of Hispanic Americans join him in praying for the new pope.
Cardinals in Rome on Wednesday elected 76-year-old Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the papal name Francis. An Argentinian, Bergoglio is also the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
Obama says the pope serves as a champion of the poor and vulnerable and represents the love and compassion that has inspired the world throughout the Catholic Church's history.
He says he looks forward to working with the pope to promote peace, security and dignity for people of all faiths.
LONDON (AP) - World leaders are sending their congratulations and Catholics around the world are celebrating after the Vatican announced the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy - making him the first pontiff from Americas.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday was "a momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world." European Union leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso wished the new Catholic leader "a long and blessed pontificate."
In Latin America, there were tears and cheers at the news that of the first pope from the hemisphere. Even in Communist Cuba, there was pride as church bells rang to celebrate the news.
On Twitter, the pope's mothballed account was revived and read: "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM," a reference to the cardinal's new name: Pope Francis.