White smoke signals Catholic church has chosen new pope

New pope takes name Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY - 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.

After announcing "Habemus Papum" -- "We have a pope!" -- a cardinal standing on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on Wednesday revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name.

Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin held a press conference Wednesday afternoon in which he discussed the significance of Pope Francis' election.

"I think the election of somebody who's from Latin America who's not European, is a reminder of what Catholic means," Tobin said. "Catholic in its original sense, the Greek word, means universal, and I think my hope is Pope Francis will bring a certain universality to the church and remind us it's a big tent."

Bergoglio reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict XVI -- who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.

The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

The archbishop of Buenos Aires reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope.

In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world's Catholics, Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as the kind of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly.

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

Andy Hohman, a professor of theology and philosophy at Marian University, said he was a little surprised by the election of Brogoglio, and he's probably not the only one.

"I think that there are going to be a number of people scratching their heads," Hohman said.

Hohman believes the church made a strong statement with the election.

"If you're going to look at where is the gospel spreading, where is it growing, well it's growing in South America," he said. "I take this as a very forward-looking, hopeful vision myself."

On the issue of leading the church through issues such as the sex scandals, Hohman said the election of the new pope is positive.

"Better to have someone not in the scandal who can come and look at it with fresh eyes and say this absolutely cannot be happening," Hohman said.

As far as Pope Francis' age, Hohman said he doesn't know enough about the new pontiff to know if he has the charisma to appeal to younger Catholics.

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