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VATICAN CITY - The Catholic church has chosen a new pope.
The new Pope Francis -- Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina -- the first ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.
The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.
Pope Francis appeared on the balcony above St. Peter's Square, waving to the tens of thousands of people who were gathered below.
Francis looked stunned as he faced the cheering crowd. He asked for prayers for himself and for retired Pope Benedict, whose resignation paved the way for the conclave that chose the Argentinean today.
White smoke emerged from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel a few minutes past 7 p.m., meaning 115 cardinals in a papal conclave elected a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
The crowd had braved cold, rainy weather to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel. They jumped for joy when white smoke poured from the chimney. Chants of "Long live the pope!" arose from the faithful, many with tears in their eyes.
The new pope appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, after a church official announces "Habemus Papum" -- "We have a pope".
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.