Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina was declared the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church Wednesday afternoon on the second day of the conclave. He was selected on the fifth ballot, earning at least 77 of the 115 cardinal votes. Bergoglio, 76, will be known as Pope Francis I.
"As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome. It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am. I would like to thank you for your embrace, also to ... the bishops, thank you very much,” Francis I said from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. "First and foremost, I would like to pray for our emeritus pope, Benedict XVI. Let us pray all of us together … so that he's blessed by the lord and guarded."
Francis I is the first South American pope and the third straight non-Italian pope. He replaces Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation from the papacy last month. He cited old age and failing strength as his reason for ending his 8 year post. The announcement marked the first time a pope had resigned in nearly 6 centuries. The last resignation occurred in 1415 when Pope Gregory XII unwillingly gave up the post amid the Great Western Schism.
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” the 85-year-old explained. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.”
"However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me,” he continued. "For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."
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