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Updated: Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis I, to lead Roman Catholic Church

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 13. 2013 8:50PM

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, at the Vatican. (REUTERS/TONY GENTILE)

Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope Wednesday of the Roman Catholic Church, the first man from the Western Hemisphere to lead the world's Catholics.


Bergoglio, a Jesuit and the archbishop of Buenos Aires, took the name Francis I.


"People in the United States of America, whether they're Latino or not, they would be proud someone from the Americas is a pope," said Gustavo Moral, a native Equadoran and Bedford business owner who attends church in Manchester.


Moral, a wine importer, said he recently returned from a trip to Argentina, Chile and Uraguay. Expectations were high for a pope from Latin America, he said.


The election of Bergoglio was met with anticipation throughout the Catholic world.


In Manchester, Bishop Peter Libasci will lead a special mass for the pope tonight at 6 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Manchester.


Cardinals elected Bergoglio on just the second day of a secret conclave to find a successor to Pope Benedict 16th, who abdicated unexpectedly last month.


White smoke poured from the roof of the Sistine Chapel Wednesday (2:06 p.m. Eastern time) and the bells of St. Peter's Basilica pealed, signaling that cardinals had chosen a new pope after only five ballots.


He was one of two possible Latin American cardinals thought to be under consideration.


St. Anne St. Augustin Parish ministers to ethnic groups, including Latinos, in Manchester. Upon Bergoglio's announcement, the pastor witnessed a 64-year-old parishioner jump like a teenager.


"It's absolutely wonderful. The New World has become as important as the Old World," said the Rev. Joseph Gurdak, a Capuchin-Franciscan, who spent years in Central America.


Gurdak said he is also encouraged that Bergoglio took the name of Francis, the founder of the Franciscan orders, which minister to the poor and marginalized.


Bergoglio lived in an apartment, cooked his own meals and chose to live like ordinary Agentinians.


"These are good signs," Gurdak said.


"The Holy Spirit did a great a job of picking the new candidate," said the Rev. Maurice Larochelle, pastor of St. Marie Church on the West Side of Manchester, even before the announcement. "The Holy Spirit doesn't make any mistakes. The Holy Spirit is at work in our church and we trust that."


The decision by 115 cardinal electors came sooner than many faithful expected because of the large number of possible frontrunners identified before the vote to replace Pope Benedict, who resigned in February.


The secret conclave began Tuesday night with a first ballot in the Renaissance splendour of the chapel and four ballots were held on Wednesday. The white smoke indicated the new pontiff had obtained the required two thirds majority in the fifth ballot.


Following a split ballot when they were first shut away on Tuesday evening, the cardinal electors held a first full day of deliberations on Wednesday. Black smoke rose after the morning session to signal no decision.


Cheers arose from hundreds of people sheltering from incessant rain under a sea of umbrellas in St. Peter's Square as the white smoke billowed from the narrow chimney.


The cardinals had faced a tough task in finding a leader capable of overcoming crises caused by priestly child abuse and a leak of secret papal documents that uncovered corruption and rivalry inside the Church government or Curia.


The wave of problems are thought to have contributed to Pope Benedict's decision to become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.


The last four Popes were all elected within two or three days.


Seven ballots have been required on average over the last nine conclaves.


Benedict was clear frontrunner in 2005 and elected after only four ballots.


The cardinals were shut inside for the secret election under Michelangelo's luminous frescos on Tuesday after a day of religious pomp and prayer to prepare for the task.


The initial inconclusive vote about two hours later was seen as a way of filtering the choice down to frontrunners for discussions among the supporters of the various candidates.


No hint emerged before the Pope was chosen. The Vatican had taken precautions, including electronic jamming devices, to prevent any leaks from inside the conclave.


(Reuters News Service contributed to this article.)

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