New Pope Hails from Argentina

3/13/2013, 3:33 p.m.

A gathering of Catholic cardinals selected a new pope on Wednesday from among their midst -- choosing cardinal from Argentina, the cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who comes from Argentina, and is the first leader of the church ever chosen from South America.

The new pope, 76, who will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.

"Habemus papam!," members of the crowd shouted in Latin, waving umbrellas and flags. "We have a pope!" Others cried "Viva il Papa!"

"It was like waiting for the birth of a baby, only better, " said a Roman man. A child sitting atop his father's shoulders waved a crucifix.

The new pope was announced on the white balcony on the front of St. Peter's Basilica as thousands of the faithful cheered joyously below.

The new pope inherits a church wrestling with an array of challenges that intensified during his predecessor, Benedict XVI -- from a priest shortage and growing competition from evangelical churches in the Southern Hemisphere where most of the world's Catholics live, to a sexual abuse crisis that has undermined the church's moral authority in the West, to difficulties governing the Vatican itself.

(Source: The New York Times)