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March 14, 2013

Argentine Jorge Bergoglio elected pope

(Continued)

American Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Wednesday night at the North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome, that Francis told fellow cardinals following the conclave that made him pope: “Tomorrow morning, I’m going to visit Benedict.”

The visit was significant because Benedict’s resignation has raised concerns about potential power conflicts emerging from the peculiar situation of having a reigning pope and a retired one.

No such worries troubled people in Francis’ home continent.

Latin Americans burst into tears and jubilation at news that the region, which counts 40 percent of the world’s Catholics, finally had a pope to call its own.

“It’s a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries. It was worth the wait,” said Jose Antonio Cruz, a Franciscan friar at the St. Francis of Assisi church in the colonial Old San Juan district in Puerto Rico.

Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict — who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years. The speed with which he was elected pope this time around indicates that — even though he is 76 and has slowed down from the effects of having a lung removed as a teenager — he still had the trust of cardinals to do the job.

After announcing “Habemus Papam” — “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, and announced he would be called Francis.

The longtime archbishop of Buenos Aires is the son of middle-class Italian immigrants and is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed.

He often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina’s capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.

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