Pope Francis delivers first blessing, asks world for prayers
Posted on: 06:27 AM IST Mar 14, 2013
Vatican City: Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, delivered his first blessing to a huge crowd in St Peter's Square on Wednesday night, asking for the prayers of "all men and women of good will" to help him lead the Catholic Church.
Francis, speaking Italian with a slight Latin American accent, joked with the crowd before delivering his blessing, saying: "As you know the duty of the conclave is to give Rome a bishop. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world."
Pope Francis, 76, appeared on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica just over an hour after white smoke poured from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel to signal he had been chosen to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
The choice of Bergoglio was announced by French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran with the Latin words "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam" ("I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope"
Francis becomes the 266th pontiff in the Church's 2,000-year history at a time of great crisis and difficulty. Although a conservative he is seen as a reformer and was not among the small group of frontrunners identified before the election.