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New Pope Chosen

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Emily Sierra Poertner

After only two days of voting, a new pope has been elected. Electing a new pope is a complicated process. One hundred and fifteen Cardinals, who are a select group of Bishops in the Catholic Church, gather in the Sistine Chapel and vote four times a day, six days a week until one person has 2/3 of the vote. While the only technical requirements are for the new pope to be a Catholic man, most popes are elected from within the group of Cardinals. It usually takes about two weeks to elect a new pope but the record for longest election is three years. After each vote the ballots are burned. The only way media outlets can tell if a new pope has been elected is by watching the chimney. If the smoke is black, they have not selected a new pope but if the smoke turns white then a new pope has been chosen. When someone is elected they take on a new name, usually the name of a previous pope, but not always.

Benedict XVI, the previous pope, resigned on February 28th this year after serving for only eight years. He was the first pope in almost six hundred years to resign.

Wednesday afternoon, the smoke turned white and it was announced that Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, 76, would be the 266th pope. He is the first pope from Latin America to lead The Church and is the first non-European in over 1,200 years. Bergoglio took the name Francis; he is the first pope to have that name.

Pope Francis holds a lot of views very traditional to The Church, opposing gay marriage, abortion, and ordaining women. Several years ago he fought with the Argentinean government against a bill that would allow same sex couples to adopt children. He has had several other problems involving the Argentinean government, but has done a lot of work with less fortunate people in his community. He often spoke out about political and economic inequality. He also advocates against child abuse and sexual slavery which he sees as a huge problem in Buenos Aires.

The White House released a statement from President Obama saying, “as a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than 2,000 years — that in each other we see the face of God.”

He has inherited a church with a lot of problems and will be kept busy. There have been a shortage of priests, competition from other churches, and problems in the Vatican.

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