14 March 2013 Last updated at 01:15

As it happened: Pope Francis elected

Key Points

  • Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina has been elected as Pope Francis
  • The new pope is the first pope to hail from from the Americas
  • News was greeted with joy by thousands in St Peter's Square
  • The new pontiff replaced Benedict XVI who stood down last month for health reasons

    White smoke has appeared from the chimney on the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, indicating a new pope has been chosen - welcome to our live coverage of the latest developments.


    The election has been greeted by cheering from crowds of faithful in St Peter's Square, where more are arriving to celebrate.

    The BBC's Mike Hirst

    tweets: Elation on the square, brollies bouncing and flags swaying as bell tolls and white smoke billows. Habemus papam. We know what, now who?


    The name of the new Pope is expected to be announced shortly.


    After the new pope has chosen a name, the other cardinals will approach the new pope to make an act of homage and obedience.


    The new pontiff will go alone to the Pauline Chapel for solitary prayer before emerging to the public, the BBC's Robert Pigott reports.

    Crowds at the Vatican

    Many Romans will now be flocking to join the thousands in St Peter's Square welcoming the new pope.


    More images of the announcement - and the jubilant crowds that greeted it - can be found in our picture gallery.

    Richard Mayola, Surrey, UK

    I pray the new Pope will be as active as the old ones, involving himself in all the issues i.e. the youth, racism, sexuality, education, right to life, and protect and preserve the church.


    The speed of the decision has surprised some observers, given that there was no clear front-runner before the vote.

    The BBC's Mike Hirst

    tweets: Pontifical band and Swiss Guards in capes and helmets march through crowd to St Peter's basilica. Security and ceremony! #conclave

    Brian, Staten Island, New York, US

    emails: I am glad that the Cardinals have chosen a new Pope so quickly. I am also sure he will be an admirable representative of the Catholic church. He represents one of our last bastions of hope for peace and harmony in the world.

    White smoke

    This moment - the emergence of white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney was the moment millions of observers had been waiting for.


    The pontifical band has stopped playing and crowds are now awaiting the formal announcement of the 266th pope from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica.

    Michael, London, UK

    emails: I am praying that the conclave has voted for a progressive Pope. The aggressive rebuking of homosexuals and continued opposition towards contraception have left me doubting whether my social values are compatible with my Catholic faith, to the point where I have considered abandoning my faith. I hope the new Pope will treat these subjects with compassion rather than contempt.

    The BBC's Cara Swift in St Peter's Square

    tweets: Exciting atmosphere here. People singing and cheering. #pope #conclave


    Thousands of people are heading towards St Peter's Square to see the announcement, as this photo from the BBC's Julian Miglierini shows:

    ROmans heading to the Vatican

    texts: I am jubilant in the news that with the Holy Spirit the Cardinals have chosen a new Pope for the Catholic Church. The people in St Peter's there to witness this special day show that the Catholic Church is strong.


    The 115 cardinals who chose the new pope have been in isolation since Tuesday afternoon, and held four inconclusive votes before this evening's decision. At least 77 of them, or two-thirds, would have had to vote for Pope Benedict XVI's successor.

    Jamie Scott, Birmingham, UK

    emails: Someone get the @pontifex Twitter handle up and running again - we have a Pope!


    The Pope's Twitter account has now been reactivated on @pontifex.

    Linda in Ghana

    texts: Although not Catholic, I have stayed behind after work to know who the new Pope will be. As a Christian I believe such a person irrespective of colour or race should be strong in upholding the Christian values which many souls have lost amidst cries of rights etc.


    The traditional announcement has been made from the balcony by the French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran: "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum... habemus papam!" - "I announce to you a great joy... we have a pope!"

    1914: Breaking News

    The new pope has been revealed as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Argentina.


    Cardinal Bergoglio has chosen the name Pope Francis I.


    Pope Francis I is the first pope from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe in over a thousand years.


    Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent from the Tablet, says the decision to choose the 76-year-old was a surprise choice and a "gentle shift" in emphasis for the Catholic Church.

    1923: Breaking News

    The new pontiff, Pope Francis I, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has emerged on to the balcony of St Peter's Basilica to address the thousands in the square.


    His first words to the crowds in the square: "Brothers and sisters, good evening."


    He thanks the crowds for their welcome and leads them in a prayer for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

    Helen, London, UK

    emails: Given his name choice, let's hope he can bring the church into the real world that a billion Catholics are living in and that he does not disappoint those looking for positive change. There is reason to be hopeful.


    The new pope has been greeted by cheers during his address:

    Pope Francis I

    "I'd ask you to pray to God so that he can bless me," Pope Francis I says, leading a silent prayer, followed by a loud cheer from the crowd.


    Pope Francis I says the world should set off on a path of love and fraternity and asks faithful to pray to God for him.


    He thanks the crowd for the welcome, adding: "Good night and I wish you a peaceful rest". He leaves the balcony to rapturous cheers.


    @pontifex sends its first tweet of the new papacy, with the message: "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM".


    The new pope has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina. Formerly archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was reportedly runner-up to Pope Benedict XVI in the 2005 papal election. He has long specialised in the kind of pastoral work that many say will be an essential skill for the next pope.

    Bethan and Alex, Durham, UK

    text: Fascinating result; watching it live from our university dormitory. Think it's great that we've got our first south American pope, hopefully this will promote greater diversity within our church.


    UK Prime Minister David Cameron tweets, saying: "A momentous day for the 1.2bn Catholics around the world as His Holiness Pope Francis I is appointed the 266th Bishop of Rome."


    The announcement was greeted with thunderous applause in Buenos Aires cathedral, the AFP news agency reports.

    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos

    tweets (in Spanish): We welcome Pope Francis I, the first Latin American pope.


    There is a real hope that Pope Francis I could change the nature of the Catholic Church, says BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott. "This is a hugely symbolic step," he says and reveals an awareness of the size of the Church outside of Europe, he adds.


    The pope took his leave of the crowd by wishing them a good night and a peaceful rest:

    Newly elected Pope Francis I waves as he appears on the central balcony of St Peter"s Basilica

    "For me it was an inspired choice," says Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, former head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales. He says Pope Francis is a "humble man" whose own "simplicity of life" will inspire others. "The very name is indicative of a new style," he says.


    The BBC's Sarah Rainsford, reporting from Brazil, says there is a great deal of excitement and pride in Latin America following the announcement.


    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offers his "heartfelt congratulations" to the new Pope, saying he looks forward to "continuing cooperation between the United Nations and the Holy See" under his wise leadership.


    In a statement, Mr Man adds: "We share many common goals - from the promotion of peace, social justice and human rights, to the eradication of poverty and hunger - all core elements of sustainable development. We also share the conviction that we can only resolve the interconnected challenges of today's world through dialogue."


    Latin American pilgrims in St Peter's Square have been sharing their reactions with BBC Mundo's Pablo Esperza Altuna. "We feel an inmense joy. This is a new hope for the Church. We hope this will unite our community", a Venezuelan pilgrim said.


    Another pilgrim from Paraguay adds: "We feel pride and emotion. Being a Latin American he may be someone who understands us. I hope he will be our advocate and he will defend our rights, especially those of the poorest in our region. He knows we exist and he will be with us."

    Enrique Peña Nieto Mexican President

    tweets (In Spanish): We respectfully and affectionately greet Pope Francis I, head of the Vatican State, with whom we wish to establish a friendly and close relationship


    The European Union offers its "sincere congratulations" to the newly-elected Pope, urging him to promote peace, solidarity and human dignity in a rapidly changing world, AFP news agency reports.


    Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales expressed his joy at the news: "As he begins his new apostolic ministry, as the Bishop of Rome and shepherd of the universal Church, Pope Francis I may be assured of the prayers and loving support of the Catholic community throughout England and Wales," he said.


    Crowds cheer as the newly-elected Pope appears on the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square.

    Crowds in St Peter's Square at the Vatican

    BBC Brasil's Marcia Carmo, reporting from Buenos Aires, says: "The sound of car horns blaring could be heard in the streets as TV stations announced that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was to be the new pontiff. His sermons always had an impact in Argentina and he often stressed social inclusion and indirectly criticised governments that did not pay attention to those on the margins of society."

    Linda, Salida, Colordo, US

    emails: So excited that someone outside of Europe has been selected.


    "We are convinced that your Holiness will continue to further with determination and strength the work of your predecessors by bringing the world's people and religions closer together," a joint statement from EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, says.


    One of the new Pope's first commitments outside Rome will be to attend the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. At the headquarters where they are preparing for the event in Rio, volunteers shouted "Long live the Pope" when Pope Francis appeared, reports BBC Brasil's Caio Quero, and they joined in prayers along with the new pontiff.

    Ellie Parry

    tweets: Moved by the emotion and joy being expressed in St Peter's Square this evening


    Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond offers his "warmest congratulations". "I wish him well in his time in the Papacy, and his first message as Pope - urging greater bonds of understanding and co-operation among peoples and nations - is one that should resonate around the globe," he says.


    Some reaction from Argentina's media: "The Pope from the end of the world," the website of the Argentine news channel Todo Noticias proclaims in a large headline, in a reference to the new pontiff's remarks that fellow cardinals "went to the other end of the world" to find him. The website of the popular newspaper Clarin also picks up on the line, while the tabloid Cronica simply states: "The Pope is Argentine!"


    Thousands of people had gathered in St Peter's Square to watch the announcement.

    Couple in St Peter's Square

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who was considered a frontrunner ahead of the Conclave says "intense prayer from all around the world" surrounded his election. "The bishops of the United States thank God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspired choice of the College of Cardinals," he says.

    Dominic, Southampton, UK

    emails: How very apt that he chose Francis I: St. Francis was told to rebuild God's church!


    The new pope represents several firsts for the Catholic Church - read more about him in this profile.


    US President Obama offers his warm wishes to the new Pope, and says the choice of a Latin American "speaks to the strength and vitality of an increasingly-important region".

    Patricia Houghtalen, New Port Richey, Florida USA

    emails: Very happy we have a new Pope and pleased that he is from Argentina and a Jesuit. I think we will find this Pope will relate well to all peoples including the huge number of Catholics in 3rd world countries. I hope the effect in America will be bringing Catholics back to our beliefs.


    A spokesman for the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church says he hopes relations with the Vatican will continue "developing in a positive manner". However, Dmitry Sizonenko said the new Pope had never taken "an active part in the dialogue between Roman Catholic and Orthodox believers, so it's hard to make any predictions".


    Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow and President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland says he is surprised the Conclave was "so quick". "Given the pre-Conclave situation, and the absence of a single dominant figure, I can only see this quick result as God's work. As soon as I heard I went into my chapel and offered a grateful and joyful prayer of thanksgiving … Deo Gratias!" he says.


    At a thanksgiving mass in Liverpool, Archbishop Patrick Kelly tells worshippers to "go home with a spring in your step, we have a Pope chosen by two thirds of the cardinals". He adds that he was very touched that the new Pope asked people to bless him. "Some thing new is happening," he says.


    Millions watched the announcement around the world, including at the New York Stock Exchange

    New York Stock Exchange
    Anna Masera

    tweets: #Francesco a good name for a #Pope, close to the poor and simple


    Pope Francis will be officially installed as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church on 19 March, the Vatican says.


    The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby offered his congratulations ,saying the election of the new Pope was of great significance to all Christians. "We have long since recognised - and often reaffirmed - that our churches hold a special place for one another. I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors," he says.


    Archbishop Welby, who is new head of the Anglican Church, adds: "As I begin tomorrow a prayer pilgrimage toward my own inauguration as Archbishop in Canterbury next Thursday, Pope Francis will be much in my own prayers, as he will be throughout the coming months and years."


    The BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo says Brazilians reacted with a mixture of disappointment that the papacy had not come to their country, pride that it was a Latin American, and a fair bit of humour that the it had gone to old rivals Argentina. On social networks many people made fun of the popular saying "God is Brazilian". "If God is Brazilian," asked one person, then why is the Pope from Argentina?"


    Women read a special edition of L'Osservatore Romano newspaper which carries a photograph of newly elected Pope Francis I.

    Women read newspaper

    Archbishop Welby adds that Pope Francis is "well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable... His choice of the name Francis suggests that he wants to call us all back to the transformation that St Francis knew and brought to the whole of Europe, fired by contemplation and closeness to God".

    Mark Simpson BBC Ireland Correspondent

    tweets: Taoiseach welcomes new Pope & sends "congratulations to the people of Argentina, a country with which Ireland shares many historic bonds".


    Argentina's president - Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner - hailed the election of the new pope, who has sometimes been critical of his country's politicians. The AFP news agency quotes her as saying: "We wish him, as he takes the reins of the Church, a fruitful pastoral mission, with such tremendous responsibility on his shoulders, seeking justice, equality, brotherhood, and peace among mankind."

    Priests on a roof of St Peter's Basilica

    Priests with umbrellas were on a roof overlooking St Peter's Square as the newly elected pontiff appeared to address the crowds.


    Pope Francis takes the helm at a difficult time for the Catholic Church. He faces an array of challenges, which include the role of women, inter-faith tensions and dwindling congregations in some parts of the world.


    The BBC's Tom Esslemont says the Pope's record on social justice back home in Argentina means he is seen as a possible transitional figure - someone who can continue the work of trying to reach out to Catholics around the world.


    The BBC's Akwasi Sarpong, in Ghana's capital, Accra, visited two key Catholic parishes following the announcement of Pope Francis's election but says there was little interest in the news from the Vatican. Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson had been tipped as a frontrunner in the race to succeed Benedict XVI. "People seem more interested in marriage counselling classes," our reporter says.


    The conclave to choose the new Pope was prompted by the unexpected resignation of Benedict XVI last month. There has been a great deal of speculation about what he will do next.


    Germany's leader said the hopes of millions of believers worldwide rested with the new pontiff, who replaces Benedict XVI, a German who opted to retire last month. "I am particularly pleased, together with the Christians in Latin America, that one of theirs has been nominated to the head of the Catholic Church for the first time," said Angela Merkel, in a statement reported by the Reuters new agency.

    Roman Catholics celebrate the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new Pope, at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires -13 March 2013

    There was an emotional reaction from Roman Catholics at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires to the election of their archbishop as the new pontiff.


    Al-Jazeera's website features a profile of Pope Francis in which he is described as "an austere Jesuit intellectual who modernised what had been one of the most conservative churches in Latin America".


    In an era when the last pope sent messages via Twitter, why does the Vatican still use smoke signals? CNN's website attempts to answer that question in its assessment of the historic process it says is "filled with pomp and ceremony".


    Pope Francis has lived with only one functioning lung for decades, although he is said to be in good shape.

    2220: Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

    Certainly, his selection is being perceived as a victory for the reformers. As a cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a pastor who led by personal example. But many believers are looking for much more - a leader who will restore the moral authority of the Church.


    Pope Francis is the first non-European to become pope since the 8th Century, when Syrian-born Gregory III was pontiff.


    The new Argentinean pontiff likes to travel by bus and is a trained chemist, says the UK's Guardian newspaper in an article listing 13 key facts about Pope Francis.

    Jorge Bergoglio poses with a jersey from the San Lorenzo football club - undated handout photograph distributed by the club on 13 March 2013

    Pope Francis is a football fan who supports San Lorenzo de Almagro, a Buenos Aires team. The club issued this photo after it was announced that the Argentinean cardinal had been selected to be the new pontiff.

    2238: Arturo Wallace BBC Mundo

    Latin America as a whole seems to be celebrating. In Bogota, Colombia, people told me they were really proud the new Pope was from the region, because that meant he would have a better understanding of the region's problems and needs. For others it was elementary justice, after all Latin America has more Catholics than any other region in the world.

    Chris Colter, Northern Maine

    tweets: I'd like to be optimistic, but ANOTHER elderly, conservative white guy as #pope? Just being from S. America isn't enough change

    2244: Allan Little BBC News

    This conclave was never going to throw up a pope who wanted to change the Church's teachings on matters like abortion, divorce, homosexuality and so on. We were always going to get a doctrinally conservative man. But he's a reformer in the sense that he wants to take on the Vatican itself - that powerful bureaucracy. This conclave has taken place at the end of a pontificate vexed from the beginning by scandals. Part of the problem was that Vatican bureaucracy was simply not geared up to respond to those scandals in the modern world.


    Pope Francis will celebrate his first Mass as pontiff in the Sistine Chapel on Thursday, AP reports Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi as saying.


    One issue Pope Francis may have to contend with is his role under Argentina's military junta, particularly the abduction of two Jesuits secretly jailed for their work in poor neighbourhoods. They survived five months of imprisonment and their superior has been accused of withdrawing protection from them. It is a charge his office flatly denied.


    The BBC's Michael Hirst reports that Pope Francis brings both change and continuity to the Vatican. He says the new pontiff is also seen as being in touch with the modern world and has already invited journalists, some 5,600 of whom are in Rome to cover his election, to an audience on Saturday.

    A man prays during a mass at cathedral of Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, 13 March 2013

    A man prays at a Mass in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, on the day of Pope Francis's elections. Venezuela's acting president joked that the country's late leader Hugo Chavez may have had a hand in the appointment. "We know that our commander has risen up there and is face to face with Christ," Nicolas Maduro said, to an outburst of laughter at a political event, AFP reports.


    To summarise the events of the last few hours:

    • Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina, has been elected as the Catholic Church's new Pope, Francis
    • The pontiff was greeted by thousands in St Peter's Square in Rome
    • The 76-year-old from Buenos Aires is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be pontiff.

    Thanks for following our coverage of the selection of Pope Francis. You can find the latest information on the new pontiff at the BBC News website..


Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.