Wednesday March 13, 2013

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Catholic church has chosen a new pope.

Argentine Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope, the first ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.

The new pope appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, after a church official announced "Habemus Papum" -- "We have a pope" -- and gave the name of the new pontiff in Latin.

Pope Francis -- the first Jesuit pope -- has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina.

The former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger, the last pope, in the 2005 papal election. He has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work -- overseeing churches and priests -- that some say is an essential skill for a pope.

In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world's Catholics, the former Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as a self-effacing humility, according to his official biographer, Sergio Rubin. His personal style is the antithesis of Vatican splendor.

Bergoglio is also known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.

The conclave was called after Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month, throwing the church into turmoil and exposing deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a manager to clean up a corrupt Vatican bureaucracy as well as a pastor who can revive Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.