New Pope Benedict XVI

The cardinals of the Roman Catholic church on Wednesday chose as their new pope a man from almost "the end of the world". The first non-European to be elected for almost 1,300 years and the first-ever member of the Jesuit order. Jorge Bergoglio, the 76-year-old is known as a humble man who denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed. He came close to becoming pope last time, reportedly gaining the second-highest vote total in several rounds of voting before he bowed out of the running in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

The new pope appeared on the balcony over the entrance to St Peter's basilica more than an hour after white smoke poured from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, signalling that the cardinals had made their choice. Dressed in his new white robes. Perhaps a little intimidated as he looked out at the sea of jubilant humanity in the square. The former Cardinal Bergoglio was not among the front-runners. But he obtained more votes than any other candidate except former pope Benedict in the 2005 conclave.

Several changes are expected to take place in the Catholic church following Francis I’s election. “It will certainly be an encouragement to Latin American Roman Catholics and it might even bring back to the Roman Catholic Church some Latin Americans who left the Church to become Evangelicals,” Okholm said. “Hopefully it will put the Vatican more in touch with the marginalized, but that remains to be seen. And it has set a precedent for selecting future popes from Latin America, Africa or Asia.”