VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Argentine Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope Wednesday and chose the papal name Francis, becoming first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
A stunned-looking Bergoglio shyly waved to the crowd of tens of thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter's Square, marveling that the cardinals had had to look to "the end of the earth" to find a bishop of Rome.
He asked for prayers for himself, and for retired Pope Benedict XVI, whose stunning resignation paved the way for the tumultuous conclave that brought the first Jesuit to the papacy.
Bergoglio, 76, had 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.
Tens of thousands of people who braved cold rain to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel jumped in joy when white smoke poured out, many shouting "Habemus Papam!" or "We have a pope!" -- as the bells of St. Peter's Basilica and churches across Rome tolled, signaling a pontiff had been chosen.
Elected on the fifth ballot, he was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.
The conclave played out against the backdrop of the first papal resignation in 600 years and revelations of mismanagement, petty bickering, infighting and corruption in the Holy See bureaucracy. Those revelations, exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year, had divided the College of Cardinals into camps seeking a radical reform of the Holy See's governance and those defending the status quo.
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.
Cardinals had remained divided over who should be pope on Wednesday after three rounds of voting, an indication that disagreements remain about the direction of the Catholic Church following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.
A conclave has rarely before taken place against the backdrop of a papal resignation and revelations of mismanagement, petty bickering, infighting and corruption in the Holy See bureaucracy. Those revelations, exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year, have divided the College of Cardinals into camps seeking a radical reform of the Holy See's governance and those defending the status quo.
Thousands of people braved a chilly rain on Wednesday morning to watch the 6-foot- (2-meter-) high copper chimney on the chapel roof for the smoke signals telling them whether the cardinals had settled on a choice. Nuns recited the rosary, while children splashed in puddles.
Unlike the confusion that reigned during the 2005 conclave, the smoke this time around was clear: black during the first two sets of smoke signals, and then clearly white on Wednesday night -- thanks to special smoke flares akin to those used in soccer matches or protests that were lit in the chapel ovens to accompany the smoke from the burned ballot papers.
Despite the great plumes of smoke that poured out of the chimney, neither the Sistine frescoes nor the cardinals inside the chapel suffered any smoke damage, Lombardi said.