Update: Read TheBlaze’s profile on the new pope — Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina (Pope Francis).
Below, find out more about this historic papal election.
VATICAN CITY (TheBlaze/AP) — Cardinals elected a new pope to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Wednesday, overcoming deep divisions to select the 266th pope in a remarkably fast conclave.
Tens of thousands of people who braved cold rain to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel jumped in joy when white smoke poured out, many shouting “Habemus Papam!” or “We have a pope!” – as the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica and churches across Rome tolled, signaling a pontiff had been chosen.
Watch live coverage, below:
The pope, whose identity isn’t yet known, is due to emerge from the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square to deliver his first words as the Bishop of Rome.
Elected on the fifth ballot, he was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation.
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope (if you want to know more about the process, go here).
The conclave played out against the backdrop of the first papal resignation in 600 years and revelations of mismanagement, petty bickering, infighting and corruption in the Holy See bureaucracy. Those revelations, exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year, had divided the College of Cardinals into camps seeking a radical reform of the Holy See’s governance and those defending the status quo.
WHO’S THE NEW POPE?
The names mentioned most often as “papabile” – a cardinal who has the stuff of a pope – include Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, an intellect in the vein of Benedict but with a more outgoing personality, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s important bishops’ office who is also scholarly but reserved like Benedict.
Here’s the Vatican’s announcement on Twitter:
Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer is liked by the Vatican bureaucracy but not by all of his countrymen. And Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary has the backing of European cardinals who have twice elected him as head of the European bishops’ conference.
On the more pastoral side is Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the favorite of the Italian press, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the back-slapping, outgoing archbishop of New York who has admitted himself that his Italian is pretty bad – a drawback for a job that is conducted almost exclusively in the language.
Previously, TheBlaze has pondered who it might be. Here’s a list of potentials.
On another note, the pope’s Twitter account has now been changed. After Benedict left, it read “Sede Vacante.” Now, it has been switched back to “Pontifex.”
THE POPE WILL NEVER KNEW WHO VOTED FOR (AND AGAINST) HIM
One thing is sure – the new pope will never truly know who voted for him.
Cardinals used to sign their names to ballots, but stopped doing so “due to an old history of intrigues and tensions, when people used to fear the most serious reprisals for their choices,” says Michael Bruter, who teaches political science at the London School of Economics.
Even so, factions of cardinals will have made their views known during informal talks between votes.
Romain Lachat, a political scientist at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, says the formation of coalitions – where voting cardinals slowly rally around a man who may only be their second or third choice – is inevitable.
There is no formal process of elimination and cardinals can even vote for themselves – which may explain why conclaves often need more than one round of balloting to produce a pope.
See MSNBC’s coverage, below:
COMPARING THIS CONCLAVE TO PAST PAPAL ELECTIONS
In centuries past, conclaves dragged on for weeks and months, sometimes years. During a 13th-century conclave that stretched for weeks, a leading candidate died.
These days the discussions are much quicker. The pope was chosen in five rounds over two days.
The previous conclave that chose Benedict XVI went four rounds over two days before the Latin announcement rang out across St. Peter’s Square from the basilica’s balcony: “Habemus papam” – We have a pope!
The longest conclave of the last century went on for 14 rounds over five days, and yielded Pius XI – in 1922.
HOW’S THE VATICAN BEING SECURED AMID EXCITEMENT, CROWDS?
Throngs of the faithful are in St. Peter’s Square, ready to cheer the new pope when he steps out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. The vast square in Rome is a sea of umbrellas, flags and chanting crowds.
The Vatican’s security force, known as the gendarmerie, is in charge of those inside the square, while Italian police handle crowd control just outside the Vatican’s boundaries. Security officers from both forces include plainclothes agents dressed up as tourists, watching for any unusual movement.
A tented field hospital went up near the Vatican before the conclave began.
There have been a few “trial runs” of crowd control. Pope Benedict XVI’s public audience drew so many people – some 150,000 – that there wasn’t enough space for all in the cobblestone square.
WHO MAKES THE POPE’S CLOTHING?
The pope’s new clothes were ready before he was.
The family-owned Gammarelli tailor shop, which has dressed popes for two centuries, had three sets of vestments – in small, medium and large – prepared for the naming of the new pontiff.
The papal outfits were on display in the window of the small wood-paneled store nestled in the shadow of the Pantheon, where the family moved in 1850 from the original founded just around the corner in 1798. They were delivered to the Vatican and left in a room next to the Sistine Chapel, ready for the new pope to change into his new clothes.
The pre-made looks haven’t always fit. In 1958, the rotund John XXIII appeared on the balcony with safety pins holding together the back of his cassock.
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.