The Catholic Church's cardinals returned to the Sistine Chapel Wednesday and chose Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina -- now Pope Francis -- as the new pope on the second day of voting. Follow the live updates below.

Live video from Rome:


That’s it for our liveblog

We're winding down our Pope Francis liveblog now. Make sure to read our story about Jorge Mario Bergoglio's election as well as our look at the Jesuit cardinal himself. We'll continue to have full coverage of Pope Francis on Thursday, so make sure you check back in with World Views and the Washington Post.

Who is Pope Francis?

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected the new pope and taken the name Pope Francis. But who is he?

Anthony Faiola reports that he is a man who eschews the trappings of luxury, instead residing "in a simple, austere apartment" near the Cathedral of Buenos Aires and choosing to prepare his own meals and ride the bus (rather than the available limousine).

Read the full story about the Jesuit cardinal who was elected pope here.

Here's a video report about Pope Francis: 

Pope Francis’s first words

Pope Francis delivered his first message in Italian about an hour after he was selected to succeed Pope Benedict.

Reuters translated his first words. An excerpt:

"Brothers and sisters, good evening.

"You know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are.

"I thank you for this welcome by the diocesan community of Rome to its bishop. Thank you.

For the complete transcript, head here.

Our latest story on Pope Francis

Here's the latest story from Jason Horowitz and Anthony Faiola in Vatican City on the election of Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the 266th pope.

Mass at Catholic University

Song, incense and prayers filled Caldwell Chapel at Catholic University as about 100 people, mostly young people, celebrated mass in honor of the selection of Pope Francis.

The Rev. Marek Stybor expressed his happiness that the new pope had selected the name Francis - though several people in the pews chuckled as the priest also admitted he couldn't be sure whether it was an allusion to St. Francis of Assisi, who founded an eponymous religious order devoted to ministering to the poor, or Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary devoted to spreading the Gospel to the four corners of the earth.

"Both saints are wonderful saints," Stybor said afterwards. "By choosing this name, he's choosing the spirituality of this saint."

— Fredrick Kunkle


Biden to lead delegation to Rome for installation

David Nakamura reports that Vice President Biden, an observant Catholic, will lead a U.S. delegation to Rome for the installation of Pope Francis.

It is believed that Francis will be installed in a mass on Tuesday.

Argument breaks out between Argentine politicians

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was elected pope today, is from Argentina. This caused quite a bit of exuberance in Argentina, but it also caused a "heated dispute in Argentina's Chamber of Deputies."

As Uri Friedman reports at Foreign Policy, the argument actually involved Hugo Chavez. A ceremony for the late Venezuelan leader was going on, and the opposition wanted to interrupt that ceremony to hear Pope Francis's first address; the ruling party disagreed. The ruling party wound up winning.

Head to this post for more on how the Argentine press is reacting to the election.


Pope Francis’s macroeconomic views

In case you were wondering (and I am sure that you were), Wonkblog put together a roundup with everything you need to know about Pope Francis's feelings on austerity, his political record and more.

Bergoglio celebrated Jewish New Year in 2007

Then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, at a synagogue in Buenos Aires in 2007.

He said he was there to examine his heart, "like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers," according to Zenit.

The article quotes Bergoglio as saying:

"Today, here in this synagogue, we are made newly aware of the fact that we are a people on a journey and we place ourselves in God’s presence. We must look at him and let him look at us, to examine our heart in his presence and to ask ourselves if we are walking blamelessly."


Speaker Boehner’s statement on Pope Francis

House Speaker John A. Boehner, the highest-ranking Catholic serving in Congress, issued this statement about Pope Francis:

Thanks be to God for our new pope, Francis I. American Catholics rejoice over this news, and offer our prayers and blessings to His Holiness with confidence that he will fill the Chair of St. Peter with grace. Even more special is that our church will be led for the first time by a Holy Father from the Americas, marking a new milestone in the history of a faith that has endured for millennia. For me, it is truly inspiring that our new pope has taken the name of Francis, the saint who lived a simple life of humility and charity, setting an example for how to make God’s love visible to all, especially those in despair or pain.

Statement from Vice President Biden on Pope Francis

Vice President Biden, who is Catholic, issued this statement a few moments ago on the election of Pope Francis:

Jill and I want to offer our congratulations to His Holiness Pope Francis, and extend our prayers as he takes on this holy responsibility. I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his Inaugural Mass. The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths. I look forward to our work together in the coming years on many important issues.


Argentines remain angry over church’s inaction in ‘dirty war’

Nicole Winfield of the AP writes:

Many Argentines remain angry over the church's acknowledged failure to openly confront a regime that was kidnapping and killing thousands of people as it sought to eliminate "subversive elements" in society. It's one reason why more than two-thirds of Argentines describe themselves as Catholic, but fewer than 10 percent regularly attend mass.


Under Bergoglio's leadership, Argentina's bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the church's failures to protect its flock. But the statement blamed the era's violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.

About 30,000 people were believed to have been killed during the "Dirty War."

As Reuters reports, Bergoglio's actions during the dictatorship "strained his relations" with Jesuits around the world.

Journalist Hugh O'Shaughnessy, writing for the Guardian in 2011, railed against "the church's complicity in the dark deeds" that occurred during the dictatorship's brutal reign.

The skyrocketing Catholic population of Latin America

The selection of Pope Francis caught many by surprise, but the choice of a pope from Latin America over Europe does follow some demographic trends.

Olga Khazan of The Atlantic points us to these Pew charts showing how the world's Catholic population has shifted from Europe to Latin America, the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa.

This chart in particular shows how the number of Catholics in Latin America and the  Caribbean has skyrocketed:

(via Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life)

Argentina’s president, nation hail new pope

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina, tweeted a letter greeting the election of Argentine-born Pope Francis late Wednesday.

The news of the elevation of the first pope ever born in the Americas electrified Buenos Aires, where cars honked horns and Catholics journeyed toward the cathedral. The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the son of Italian immigrants, known for his concern for the poor and his conservative views.

In her statement, President Fernandez wrote: "I want to congratulate you and express my happiness on the occasion.'' See the full memo here in Spanish.

The Associated Press quoted Ana Maria Perez, who had been waiting for the announcement at the cathedral, as saying the new pontiff has strongly held his frugal ways, which include taking public transportation alongside working class Argentines. "He's going to the be pope of the street,'' the AP quoted Perez as saying.

(via @CFKArgentina)

— David Beard and Mark Berman

Just joining us? Your Pope Francis primer

If you're just joining us: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been elected pope, taking the name Pope Francis I.

Bergoglio, 76, is the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas. Head here to read our latest story by Jason Horowitz and Anthony Faiola.

The fake Bergoglio Twitter account

Almost immediately after Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was identified as the next pope, Twitter lit up with tweets and retweets directing people to the cardinal's unverified Twitter account. The only problem? Bergoglio doesn't have a Twitter account.


A cursory glance at old tweets showed that the account is actually a long-standing parody account -- and does not belong to the 76-year-old clergyman.




Despite a number of tweets trying to debunk the fake account, the account is now the first reference link in Wikipedia's entry for Bergoglio.

The new pope is expected to tweet from the @Pontifex handle, which tweeted shortly after Francis was elected.


Vatican-watchers surprised by Bergoglio pick

Jorge Bergoglio represents a lot of firsts for the papacy: first Francis, first Jesuit, first Latin American. It's no surprise, then, that even fervent Vatican-watchers were -- well, surprised -- when his name was announced.

Georgetown University's Catholic research center tweeted -- and then apparently deleted -- this message:

Rachel Donadio is the Rome bureau chief for the New York Times; @ABCReligion is the account of Scott Stephens, the religion and ethics editor of ABC online; Matt Swaim is the producer of a national Catholic radio show.

Meanwhile, some prominent Catholic tweeters seemed both surprised and pleased. Ignatius Insight is a Catholic press; Sister Anne is a nun and blogger based in Chicago.

New pope announced, Twitter goes nuts

As often happens during major news events, Twitter went a bit bonkers when Pope Francis was named:

Of course, these numbers mean nothing without some context. While we can't provide a direct comparison (Twitter didn't exist during the last papal conclave), we can contrast these numbers with other major events:

The papal announcement apparently can't hold a candle to bored sports fans. When the power went out in the Superdome during Super Bowl XLII, there were 231,500 tweets sent per minute.

During the Oscars last month, there were 85,300 tweets per minute when "Argo" was named Best Picture. (That narrowly edged out the 82,300 tweets per minute when Adele melted all of our faces with her performance of "Skyfall.")

And if we look at a major event taking place outside the U.S., what about the 2012 Summer Olympics? Well, when Usain Bolt won a gold medal in the 200 meter sprint, Twitter topped out at 80,000 tweets per minute.

Cardinal Wuerl’s statement on Pope Francis

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington issued a statement a short time ago congratulating Pope Francis.

"Pope Francis is endowed with so many gifts that enhance his mission now as the Chief Shepherd of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics," Wuerl said in the statement. "We thank God for the many intellectual talents and spiritual qualities, pastoral experience and effective ministry of the new Pope."

Pope Francis is more than just Benedict's successor, Wuerl said. He succeeds all  who preceded him "in an unbroken line going all the way back to Peter."

Bergoglio spoke out against same sex marriage

In 2010, Argentina was embroiled in a debate over legalizing same-sex marriage. (It was eventually approved in spite of what the Post described at the time as "a vigorous campaign" the Catholic Church waged against the bill.

Cardinial Jorge Bergoglio, then the archbishop of Buenos Aires, weighed in and declared the law legalizing same sex marriage to be a "destructive attack on God's plan," the New York Times reported.

New pope will meet the media on Saturday

Curious to hear from Pope Francis himself? It seems likely that your earliest chance will be this weekend. He will have an audience with journalists and media in town for the conclave, the Catholic News Service reports.

What Pope Francis means for Argentina

Jorge Bergoglio is Latin America's first pope and the first non-European pontiff in modern history -- a major coup for Argentina, where 92% of the population is Catholic.

Catholicism is the official religion in Argentina, even enshrined in the second article of the country's constitution. ("The Federal Government supports the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion," it reads.)

In fact, as New York magazine's Justin Miller points out on Twitter, a former pope is in some ways responsible for the country's existence -- Alexander VI split Latin America between Spain and Portugal in 1493, basically separating Brazil from Argentina (and the rest of Spanish-speaking Latin America).

Since then, Argentina has been "deeply imbued with Roman Catholicism," though the country may be less fervent than it has been in the past. The CIA World Factbook classifies Argentina as only "nominally Catholic," noting that only 20 percent of the country's Catholics practice regularly. That doesn't stop the state from supporting the Catholic Church with subsidies of about $4 million per year.

Argentina has recently passed a number of laws that jive with church theology in general and with Bergoglio, in particular -- when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage, for instance, he said it amounted to an "intention to destroy God's plan." According to Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, the church and state have also been at odds over contraception, economic policies and the alleged involvement of the church in Argentina's Dirty War.

Naturally, that hasn't stopped some Argentinians from celebrating the news. Susana Gimenez is one of the country's biggest TV personalities.

"Long live the pope, long live Argentina," it reads. "GOD is with us."

White House statement on Pope Francis

The White House has released a statement from President Obama reacting to the election of Pope Francis I:

 On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.  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 two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God.  As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.  Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.  We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.

A look back at non-European popes

The fact that Pope Francis hails from outside Europe (Argentina, specifically) has drawn quite a bit of attention. This is clearly noteworthy, as it represents the Catholic Church shifting toward Latin America and Africa.

But Pope Francis is not the first non-European pope. (You probably already knew that, and if so, good for you! We're just sharing this for people who didn't know this. Other people. Not you.)

Max Fisher explains that Francis is may be the 11th non-European pope, part of a legacy that dates back to the very first pope, Saint Peter.

Pope Francis I: Meaning behind the name?

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has taken the name Pope Francis I, naming himself after Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order.

St. Francis was born to wealthy parents in the late 12th century but abandoned his family's wealth to live a life of radical poverty and service. The order he helped to found still exists around the world today. The D.C. Monastery of the Order defines their mission thusly:

The Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., sustains this 800-year mission of the Franciscan Friars in the Holy Land through education, fundraising, recruiting vocations, promoting pilgrimages and providing pastoral ministry locally to religious and lay Catholics and to all of good will.

The Franciscan Monastery is home to a thriving Franciscan community; self sustaining and capable of fulfilling its mission on behalf of the Holy Land, its Friars and the Church Universal.


Pope Francis I on evangelism

Last year, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio spoke to the Vatican Insider about evangelism. He touched on his particular experiences in Argentina and Buenos Aires:

“We seek to make contact with families that are not involved in the parish.  Instead of just being a Church that welcomes and receives, we try to be a Church that comes out of itself and goes to the men and women who do not participate in parish life, do not know much about it and are indifferent towards it....Other than this, we also try to reach out to people who are far away, via digital means, the web and brief messaging.”

You can read the entire interview here.

Vatican officially announces new pope

The Vatican has issued a press release officially confirming that Pope Francis I will be the 266th pope. "The cardinal proto-deacon Jean-Louis Tauran made the solemn announcement to the people" a little more than an hour after the white smoke was spotted, the release says.

Pope Francis I is a fan of opera

Looking for more information on Pope Francis I? Perhaps something humanizing, something that can help you understand the man who was just elected head of the Church?

NPR points out a tidbit gleaned from Brian Williams of NBC News. Williams asked Cardinal Edward Egan about the new pope, and Egan replied:

And I think you might be interested to know, Brian, that I sent him a couple of Metropolitan Opera recordings. He's a great follower of our opera here in New York and I always say, 'When are you going to come and stay with me? We'll see something in New York.' He's a wonderful gentleman."

Francis I introduced to the world (Video)

French Cardinal Protodeacon Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran announces the election of Argentine cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new pope. Watch the video:

‘We don’t know a lot about him’

Jason Horowitz reports from St. Peter's Square:

“We don’t know a lot about him,” said Silvia Napolitano, 62, as she walked out of the square with a friend. “It seems he has a very direct connection with the people. He seems simple. And we like Argentines, they’re open and sociable. You can tell from the way he speaks with that soft Italian accent.”

A group from Uruguay and Mexico celebrated together in the square. “It’s an opening to a continent that if full of faithful that has been ignored,” said Carlos Becerril, 35, from Mexico. “We will now all be heard more strongly.”

The Vatican’s financial interests

Pope Francis I didn't just take over a church today. He took over the Catholic Church, which also happens to be a pretty hefty financial empire.

Kevin Roose at New York pointed this out yesterday. While the Vatican itself is secretive about its various financial holdings, the church does release financial statements. The Vatican has its own mini-hedge fund, lots of real estate and priceless works of art by Michaelangelo, Raphael and other famous artists.

Head here for more on this business empire.

Francis I, the first Jesuit pope

Among the many firsts for the new pope, Cardinal Bergoglio's rise to Pope Francis I makes this the first time a Jesuit will assume the role.

The Jesuits were founded by Ignatius of Loyola, a follower of St. Francis of Assisi, and the theology tends toward "the open and positive," religion reporter Michelle Boorstein writes. Jesuits were the first Catholics in the American colonies. Boorstein said:

Jesuits are often seen as rebels, and the Vatican shut down the order for several decades in the late 1700s because of the perception that its members were meddling in Colonial politics. In recent decades, Jesuits have been associated with high-profile activism, such as in Latin America and, earlier, the protests against the Vietnam War.

Because Jesuits tend to work within the culture — in schools, research and cultural institutions — they sometimes are seen as less wary of contemporary Western life than Catholic Church officialdom.

Photos from the scene at the Vatican

Just a short while ago the new Pope Francis I addressed the crowds amassed in St. Peter's Square. View our full gallery of images from on the scene here.

(Peter Macdiarmid/AP)


Jorge Mario Bergoglio profile

The Associated Press is up with a profile of Bergoglio:

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Jesuit pope, has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

Bergoglio, 76, reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope. In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world’s Catholics, Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as the kind of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly, says his official biographer, Sergio Rubin.

You can read the full profile of the new Pope Francis I here.

Bergoglio seen as runner-up in 2005

Earlier this month, the National Catholic Reporter profiled Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis I:

After the dust settled from the election of Benedict XVI, various reports identified the Argentine Jesuit as the main challenger to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. One cardinal later said the conclave had been "something of a horse race" between Ratzinger and Bergoglio, and an anonymous conclave diary splashed across the Italian media in September 2005 claimed that Bergoglio received 40 votes on the third ballot, just before Ratzinger crossed the two-thirds threshold and became pope.

Though it's hard to say how seriously one should take the specifics, the general consensus is that Bergoglio was indeed the "runner-up" last time around. He appealed to conservatives in the College of Cardinals as a man who had held the line against liberalizing currents among the Jesuits, and to moderates as a symbol of the church's commitment to the developing world.


The case for Bergoglio was essentially boiled down to how strong his support was in 2005, his position as a Latin American with Italian roots, his ability to draw support from conservatives and moderates alike and his success as an evangelist.

This profile also discussed some of the reasons why Bergoglio's window had seemingly closed. His age, for one thing; he's 76, two years younger than Benedict when he was elected in 2005. And the story raised doubts about his "toughness" and the fact that he's a Jesuit.

Of course, that was March 3, when Bergoglio was still Bergoglio. Now, he's Pope Francis I.

Pontifex Ascendit

The @Pontifex Twitter account is back. Here's the first tweet sent since Pope Francis I was elected:

Last month, after Pope Benedict announced he was stepping down, tweets sent by @Pontifex were all deleted.

Video: The scene from St. Peter’s Square

Watch the reaction to Wednesday's news that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected leader of the Catholic Church. He will now be known as Pope Francis I.

Bergoglio leads crowd in prayer

Standing on the balcony of St. Peters, Pope Francis I welcomed the crowd with a salutation of good evening in Italian. "You know that it was the duty of the conclave to provide Rome with a bishop and it looks as if my brothers the cardinal went to fetch him at the end of the world, he said. He then led the crowd in prayer.

(Peter Macdiarmid/AP) (Peter Macdiarmid/AP)

What do we know about Bergoglio?

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected the new pope. Reuters is reporting that he took the name Pope Francis.

What do we know about Bergoglio?

In 2005, the Post reported that Bergoglio was seen as a strong contender to succeed Pope John Paul II:

Bergoglio, the son of middle-class Italian immigrants, became the first Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was appointed cardinal three years later.

His conservative leanings on doctrinal and spiritual issues are widely seen as in keeping with the legacy of John Paul. He opposes abortion and supports celibacy among priests, and he has called for tightening the church's hierarchical structure to ease internal dissent.

A popular and well-known activist, Bergoglio has championed social programs and won respect for questioning free-market policies, which he blames for leaving millions of Argentines impoverished. During one of his final Masses before departing for the conclave that begins Monday in Rome, appreciative throngs chanted "Viva Bergoglio!" after his sermon honoring John Paul.

Vatican reporters cry with joy


Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina elected pope

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina is now the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. He is the first Latin American pope in Catholic history.


From an earlier AP report on Bergoglio:

CARDINAL JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO: Bergoglio, 76, has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests. The archbishop of Buenos Aires reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope. In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world’s Catholics, Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as the kind of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly. Bergoglio is known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.

President Obama’s first reaction to pope news

From congressional reporter Ed O'Keefe:

President Obama emerged from his meeting with House Republicans about 3 p.m. and reporters asked for his early thoughts on the announcement of a new pope.

“Well, I made the announcement that we saw smoke, but I actually have not seen the official announcement of the name, so we look forward to hearing about it,” he said.

Asked whether white smoke had perhaps arisen during his meeting with House Republicans, Obama laughed: “You’re straining the analogy.”

Regarding his meeting with Republicans, Obama told reporters, “It was good, I enjoyed it, it was useful.”

Vatican’s official Web site updates: ‘Habemus papam’

A screen shot of the Vatican's updated Web site, taken March 13, 2013. ,

The Catholic Church may be slow to change but the Vatican Wednesday was quick to update its Web site,, with the news that a new pope had been elected.

The words ''habemus papam,' (meaning "we have a pope") are blasted across the site. The words "sede vacante," which indicated that there was no pope, have been removed from the @Pontifex Twitter handle.

When Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran appears in front of the central balcony on St Peter’s Basilica, he will proclaim "Habemus Papam." Then we'll learn which cardinal has been selected, and the papal name he has chosen for himself.

Flashback: Pope Benedict XVI in 2005

As we await the announcement of the new pope, now seems as good a time as any to revisit our story about the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Daniel Williams wrote the following:

Late in the first full day of a conclave of 115 voting cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, shortly before 6 p.m., white smoke streamed from a chimney over the hallowed chapel. The crowd of 20,000 in St. Peter's Square cheered at the indication a pontiff had been chosen. Within minutes, bells pealed in confirmation, and about an hour later, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez of Chile stood before the throng and heralded the news with the traditional Latin words "Habemus papam" -- "We have a pope."

Ratzinger had turned 78 just a few days before his selection. Then, as now, the various prognosticators had wondered if the new pope would be a pivot from his predecessor:

His election defied the opinion of some that the cardinals would choose a low-key, conciliatory churchman to follow Pope John Paul II, whose vigorous travels in a 26-year reign made the papacy a global attraction.

Read Williams's story for more.

In Washington, one priest who won’t be pope

Congressional reporter Ed O'Keefe shares this Washington scene:

Reporters awaiting President Obama's exit from his meeting with House Republicans spotted the House Chaplain, Catholic Rev. Patrick J. Conroy if he had the inside scoop from Vatican City.

"It's not me!" he said before shrugging his shoulders and walking away.

Installation mass could be March 19

March 19 could be a good day for the mass celebrating the installation of the new pope, a Vatican spokesman suggested to reporters during a press conference earlier today. March 19 is the celebration of St. Joseph, known for protecting the common worker.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Vatican, told the Catholic News Service that he did not believe Pope Benedict XVI would attend this installation mass.

The two questions asked of a new pope

Popes are asked a very specific pair of questions after being elected. Erin McLam of NBC News describes it this way:

It is a solemn decision. Newly elected popes are asked only two questions by the senior cardinal inside the chapel. The first is whether he wants the job. The second: “By which name do you wish to be called?”

Popes actually went by their given names until the sixth century. John II, a priest elected in 533, started the trend of popes abandoning their birth names. Read McLam's report for more.

In Rome, throngs cheer in street

From our reporter Jason Horowitz in Rome:

A throng of people ran up the Via della Conciliazione, the broad avenue leading to St. Peter’s, holding umbrellas above their heads. A line of Polish nuns in white clasped each other’s hands. Clusters of students jumped up and down and roars passed over the sea of people like waves.

“Huge emotions,” said Claudio Santini, a lawyer from Rome who stood in a bowler hat in the square. “It’s not important where the pope is from, just that he can travel into people’s hearts.”

New pope elected on conclave’s fifth ballot

The new pope was elected on the conclave's fifth ballot, according to the Catholic News Service. White smoke erupted from the roof of the Sistine Chapel at 7:05 p.m. local time. But it was estimated that it would take about an hour before Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran comes out onto the balcony to announce "Habemus papam," which translates to "We have a pope."

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will introduce new pope

Here's what's happening next in Rome.

From the Vatican Radio:

As the cheering crowds wait eagerly in St Peter’s Square, the new pontiff is changing into the traditional white vestments in what is called the Room of Tears. After that, he returns to the Sistine Chapel where each of the Cardinal electors kneels to offer a sign of homage and obedience to their new Holy Father.

Following that ritual, the new Pope will move to the Pauline Chapel to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Shortly after that, the senior cardinal deacon, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, will appear between the red curtains of the central balcony on St Peter’s Basilica to proclaim the famous Latin words ‘Habemus Papam’, revealing the identity of the new pontiff and the name that he has chosen.

A moment later, the Pope will come out onto that balcony to greet the crowds and to give his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing to the city of Rome and to the world.

11 most talked-about candidates for pope

Here's the list of some of the most-talked about candidates for pope during this week's conclave:

Timothy Dolan, 63, United States
Peter Erdo, 60, Hungary
Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, 70, Honduras
Sean P. O'Malley, 68, United States
Marc Ouellet, 68, Canada
Malcolm Ranjith, 65, Sri Lanka
Odilo Pedro Scherer, 63, Brazil
Christoph Schoenborn, 68, Austria
Angelo Scola, 71, Italy
Luis Antonio Tagle, 55, Philippines
Peter Turkson, 64, Ghana

Analysts: Short conclave favors front runners

Church watchers have said that a short conclave would indicate that a front runner for pope was easily able to secure the 77 votes to become pontiff. With only five votes taken, this conclave was a relatively swift one.

Reported front-runners included Cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, and Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil.

We have a pope: White smoke pours out of Sistine Chapel chimney

The chimney atop the Sistine Chapel sent up white smoke Wednesday and the bells of St. Peter’s basilica have tolled. “Habemus papem”: The Catholic Church now has a new pope.

The white smoke was sent after five rounds of voting indicating that a  two-thirds majority vote was reached and that one candidate has received at least 77 votes.

Here’s what happens next:

Once a cardinal has been elected pope, the master of liturgical ceremonies enters the Sistine Chapel and the senior cardinal asks, “Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?” Assuming the cardinal says “I accept,” the senior cardinal then asks: “By what name do you wish to be called?” The master of liturgical ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, then enters the information on a formal document.

At this point, white smoke pours out of the Sistine Chapel chimney and bells of St. Peters toll.

The new pope then changes into his papal white cassock, and one-by-one the cardinals approach him to swear their obedience.

Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka

Here's a look at one of the potential candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI:

Malcolm Ranjith, the 65-year-old cardinal from Sri Lanka, is considered to be theologically similar to Pope Benedict XVI. Joel Achenbach outlines the similarities: Liberal on social justice issues, in favor of the Latin Mass, against secular trends in the Church and has required that Catholics take communion on the tongue while kneeling.

Ranjith has shifted back and forth between Sri Lanka and Rome, and he has plenty of experience as a Vatican official serving in various posts.

For more, read this profile.

Marc Ouellet of Canada

Here's a look at one of the potential candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI:

Marc Ouellet, the Canadian cardinal, has long been considered a strong candidate to become the first North American pope. Jason Horowitz describes Ouellet as someone who follows in Pope Benedict XVI's footsteps and echoes his personality.

The 68-year-old Ouellet spent a decade teaching in Colombia and speaks -- deep breath -- French, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German. He is considered in the Vatican to be a reformer on sexual abuse issues, but many Canadians thought he didn't speak up enough or do enough.

For more, read this profile.

Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras

Here's a look at one of the potential candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI:

Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, would cut quite a contrast to Pope Benedict XVI. As Nick Miroff writes, the 70-year-old archbishop can play the saxophone, fly an airplane and has appeared alongside Bono (it was to campaign for third-world debt relief, so don't hold the Bono thing against him).

His selection would seem to show that the church is pivoting its orientation away from Europe and perhaps toward Latin America, where about 40 percent of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics reside.

For more, read this profile.

Sean P. O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston

Here's a look at one of the potential candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI

Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley is considered a frontrunner, owing to his humble style and efforts to improve dioceses riven by sexual abuse, Michelle Boorstein writes.

O'Malley, installed in 2003, was considered an expert at taking over such dioceses, the Boston Globe reported at the time. (Here's more from the Boston Globe on the abuse scandal in Boston.) Much like Dolan, the New York archbishop, O'Malley normally would be a dark horse because he hails from the United States, but that may not be as much of an issue this time around.

For more, read this profile.


UPDATE: Pope watch: Songs to watch smoke by

Post editor David Beard sends along this fun smoke signal playlist, updated by our readers:

As mesmerizing as a Yule Log, the wispy, trailing smoke from the Sistine Chapel's roof is luring viewers worldwide. But every Smoke Cam needs a soundtrack, no? We're here to help (and feel free to suggest more in our comments section as well):

1. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple

The d'oh selection. Or the "turn it up to 11'' selection. "Smoke'' was based on a fire in neighboring Switzerland and it builds to a crescendo appropriate for a new pontiff. Its opening three-note bass progression has long been a "'Stairway to Heaven'' to beginning rockers.

2. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes -- The Platters

I know, parents music. Or grandparents music. But it's sweet, and longing, and at the risk of being corny, enduring.

3. Fire Bomb -- Rihanna

If there's smoke, there's ... well, never mind. "I didn't do it, you lit the match for me,'' Rihanna sings. Safe for Vatican use?

4. Smoke -- Ben Folds Five

Not exactly an upper, but hey, at least it's not "Brick.'' Or the most depressing (for journalists) song ever, "Fred Jones Pt. 2"

5. Fire -- Ohio Players

Just give it up. If we get white smoke, there's going to be a street party at St. Peter's. Why not tear the roof off this sucker with this 1970s funk classic.

6. Smokin' In The Boys Room -- Brownsville Station.

A bad-boy song (in a PG way) whose title says it all. "Teacher don't you kill me/Up with your rules/But everybody knows that/Smokin' ain't allowed in school.''

7. Chim-Chim Cher-ee, from "Mary Poppins''
One of two songs tweeted from D.C.'s Sujatha Bagal, we thought it was perfect. Or at least it had a chimney. The other also was from 'Poppins' -- the chimney sweeps singing/dancing "Step in Time.''

8. Up In Smoke -- Cheech & Chong

Thematic, true. Appropriate? Debateable. However, ''smoke'' swirls around this stoner duo's theme. Randomly, are there Doritos in the Vatican? (Thanks @JimmyOrr for the suggestion).


Have another suggestion? Let us know in the comments section below. Meantime, here's that Smoke Cam again.


World’s most famous seagull preens on papal chimney

With all eyes turned to the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, a seagull has deicded to cash in on his 15 minutes of feathery fame. He even has two (and counting!) Twitter accounts.







Peter Erdo of Hungary

Here's a look at one of the potential candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI:

Peter Erdo, the 60-year-old head of the Hungarian church, was the youngest cardinal to participate in the 2005 conclave that chose Pope Benedict XVI. As Michael Birnbaum writes, Erdo could represent a compromise choice in a year in which a non-European pope could be elected. He started a biannual European-African Catholic conference that alternates locations between Europe and Africa.

For more, read this profile.


Waiting for possible smoke at 12:30 EDT

A quick reminder: smoke is sent twice a day--once after morning session's two votes and once after the afternoon session's two votes -- if no pope is elected. We've already had this morning's black smoke, indicating that a two-thirds majority was not secured during the two morning votes.

According to the public schedule, the 115 voting cardinals are now back in the voting portion of the conclave, meaning that we are now again on smoke watch. If a pope is elected during the first vote of this afternoon's session, white smoke will be sent and the secret conclave will conclude. So when should you pay attention? Catholic News Service has the details:

If [a pope] is elected on the first ballot of the afternoon, the white smoke would be seen between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., [which is between 12:30 and 1:00 EDT]

All eyes will soon be glued to the top of the Sistine Chapel, but the only action going on there for now is the occasional visit of an unsuspecting pigeon or seagull. Habemus avis.

Or, as the Rev. James Martin SJ put it:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Timothy Dolan, the well-known American contender

Here's a look at one of the potential candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI:

Timothy Dolan, the New York archbishop, is the best-known Catholic clergyman in the United States. As Michelle Boorstein writes in a profile of Dolan, the 63-year-old St. Louis native is a "positive, engaging face" for orthodoxy.

The fact that his name is being floated comes as something of a surprise, considering the long belief that the College of Cardinals wouldn't select an American. But Dolan, described as a "happy warrior," seems to possess the extroverted personality that could be sought in the next pope.

For more, read this profile.

Obama: American pope wouldn’t take orders from me

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos aired Wednesday, President Obama talked about the possibility of an American pope and briefly addressed his ongoing clash with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops over coverage of contraception. From the transcript posted at Yahoo:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of eyes on Rome as the cardinals prepare to pick a new pope. And for the first time, some American cardinals on the list. Well, what I wanted to ask you about, there seems to be some concern, and you hear this a lot, that among Catholics, there shouldn't be an American pope because that pope would be too tied to the U.S. government. Kinda the mirror image of —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That's interesting. Yeah. Yeah.

STEPHANOPOULOS: — John F. Kennedy's problem back in 1960. What do you think of that?

OBAMA: You know I don't know enough about the internal workings of the Catholic Church to know how seriously those issues are being discussed. It seems to me that

an American pope would preside just as effectively as a Polish pope or an Italian pope or a Guatemalan pope.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And not take orders from you?

OBAMA: Well, I guarantee you I- I- look- you know, I- I don't know if you've checked lately, but- the conference of Catholic bishops here in the United States don't seem to be takin' orders from me. I- my hope is- based on what I know about the Catholic Church and- the terrific work that they've done around the world.

And certainly in this country, and, you know- helping those who are less fortunate- is that- you have- a pope who sustains and maintains- what I consider the central message of the gospel. And that is- that we we treat everybody as children of God and that we love them the way Jesus Christ taught us to love 'em.
And- and that means you know, a devotion to God, but it also means a devotion to service and and you know, a deep part of the Catholic tradition. I think that a pope is that clarion voice on behalf of those issues- will- you know, will have a tremendous and positive impact on the world.

Longer conclave favors underdogs, observer says

A La Stampa analysis this week made the case that the longer the conclave, the more likely that the pope who emerges is an outside candidate. Via World Crunch:

VATICAN CITY - Even this time, the duration of conclave matters. A short election, concluding within a day or two, will show that one candidate has been stronger than the others since the outset. A longer election, however, could bring some surprises.

There are cardinals who aren’t expecting a short conclave, like the last one in 2005. Then, the cardinals closed themselves inside the Sistine Chapel in the late afternoon of Monday, April 18. The first "fumata" was black, and the votes widely dispersed. The only cardinal to come out with any significant "packet" of consensus was the 78-year-old German Cardinal, who would later described himself as “a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.”

To elect Benedict XVI, four ballots were needed. The first was on that Monday evening, and two more rounds of voting the next morning also produced black smoke from the chimney at midday on Tuesday. The break for lunch was decisive to convince the uncertain, and the first afternoon ballot produced the necessary two-thirds majority to elect Joseph Ratzinger.

. . .

This time, if the white smoke has appeared by Wednesday, it’s likely to be one of the favorites. However, from Thursday morning onwards, it’s the outsiders who will suddenly become the frontrunners.

Dennis Rodman spotted near St. Peter’s Square

(AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) Former NBA star Dennis Rodman walks by the Bernini Colonnade near St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 13, 2013. Rodman, who recently returned from a controversial trip to North Korea, says he is in Rome to promote the papal candidacy of Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

Read more about the context of Rodman's trip here.

Photos: Scene from St. Peter’s Square

The faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square again Wednesday to watch for the signs of papal smoke and hold prayer vigils for the election of the next Roman pontiff.

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) Three nuns wait in the rain for smoke to emanate from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel as cardinals continue their conclave on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

(AP Photo/Oded Balilty) Visitors wait for chimney smoke from the roof of the Sistine Chapel on the second day of the Catholic conclave to elect a new pope.

Opinion: Time to innovate at the Vatican

On Innovation's Dominic Basulto blogs for the site this morning about the tension between ancient traditions and the modern world. Basulto suggests that if the Vatican embraced an open-source approach to the conclave it would strengthen the body and give it credibility.

They would realize that technology is an extraordinarily powerful tool for reaching potential new members, and that opening up the decision-making process to their flock all over the world is a sign of strength, not weakness. They would be more inclusive and see how their message needs to change in response to growth in places such as Latin America and Asia. And, most importantly, they would realize that sending smoke signals is a technological artifact now that religion is no longer just an institution — it is also a form of code for telling us how to live our lives to the fullest.

Do you agree?

Dennis Rodman heads to Rome. Really.

Apparently, former NBA star Dennis Rodman wants to try his hand at religious diplomacy now, too. From Cindy Boren's Morning Lead blog:

Fresh from meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun, the former NBA player told TMZ that he has flown to Rome, hoping to meet the new Pope. But Rodman had better be prepared to cool his jets for a while. So far, there has been nothing but black smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney, signifying that the cardinals have not chosen Benedict XVI’s successor.
“I want to be anywhere in the world that I’m needed,” Rodman, whose press agent said he planned to appear today in St. Peter’s Square in something resembling a “Popemobile,” told TMZ. “I want to spread a message of peace and love throughout the world.”

Benedict XVI watching conclave on TV

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, deputy Vatican spokesman, told "CBS This Morning" that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was watching the conclave proceedings on television, including coverage of Masses and processions.

"What do retired popes do?" pondered Rosica. "They want to see what's happening at the home office."

Video: Hope for an American pope?

For the first time ever, two Americans are being talked about as serious contenders to become the head of the Catholic Church.

The Post's Michelle Boorstein shares more about Cardinals Timothy Dolan and Sean O'Malley, as well as a Canadian frontrunner.

Catholic leaders weigh in: ‘If I were pope’

TONY GENTILE/REUTERS - A cross is seen on a cardinal as he arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 6, 2013.

In a conclave week feature, Catholic clergy and laymen discuss at On Faith what they would do if they were pope. Read below for views from the Rev. James Martin SJ, Lisa M. Hendey, Sister Julie Vieira IHM, the Rev. Dwight Longenecker and Timothy Shriver. All weighed in on their ideas for renewing and re-calibrating the Catholic Church.

What would you do if you were pope? Answer at On Faith or tweet #ifIwerepope.

Cardinals back to chapel at 11 a.m. EDT

The voting cardinals will head back to the Sistine Chapel via bus around 11 a.m. EDT, Catholic News Service reported early Wednesday. The group is currently breaking for lunch. They will remain secluded until a new pope is elected.


Black smoke sent from Sistine Chapel

Black smoke was emitted from the Sistine Chapel in Rome late Wednesday morning, meaning that the third vote for pope had not reached the 2/3 majority needed to elect a new pope.

The 115 elector cardinals will convene for a second session, and a potential two additional votes, Wednesday afternoon.


Cardinals vote beneath ‘Last Judgment’

April 16, 2005: Tables and chairs are set in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City for the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. Eric Vandeville / Vatican via Getty Images

When the 115 elector cardinals hand in each of their ballots during the voting portion of the conclave, they'll do so under one of the world's most famous pieces of art, Michelangelo’s 'Last Judgment.' The painting depicts the end of the world through Christ's second coming, complete with imagery of both the saved and the damned.

No pressure.

Actually, pressure is intended not only by the setting, but also by the words the cardinals say each time they hand in their ballot:

“I call as my witness Christ the Lord, who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected.”

Jan. 13, 2008 Pope Benedict XVI celebrates baptisms in the Sistine Chapel. In the background, Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” is shown.

Pope John Paul II said of Michelangelo's work:

If before the Last Judgement we are dazzled by splendor and fear, admiring on the one hand the glorified bodies and on the other those subjected to eternal damnation, we also understand that the entire vision is deeply permeated by one light and one artistic logic: the light and logic of the faith that the Church proclaims by confessing: I believe in one God ... creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible"

According to Religion News Service, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has said "that the image of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” insinuated in our soul the vastness of our responsibility'” when participating in conclaves.

RNS also reported that "while lighting in the chapel is usually suffused, for the conclave, the frescoes by Michelangelo and Botticelli will be bathed in a brilliant light."

Graphic: How is a new pope elected?

Sill trying to comprehend the conclave?

You're not going to want to miss this incredible infographic detailing exactly how a new pope is elected. The full version explains the balloting process and gives you a clearer picture of what's going on inside the frescoed walls of the Sistine Chapel, where the cardinals are locked away from the world.

Look at you! A Vatican insider.

Video: Watch the chimney that will change the world

And now, all eyes turn to the smoke signals from atop the Sistine Chapel.

Remember: white smoke means "we have a pope!", while black smoke means that no consensus has yet been reached. Smoke of one sort or another is possible at 11 a.m. in Rome (6 a.m. Eastern), and definitely expected by noon in Rome.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying watching the blissfully unaware pigeon perched next to the chimney.

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If there’s smoke at 5:30 a.m. EST, it means we have a pope

From the Post's report:

If there is smoke at 10:30 a.m. Rome time (5:30 a,.m. Eastern), it will be white, because it means that the cardinals have found their man on the day’s first vote. If that vote is again inconclusive, the next puff of smoke from the chimney will be at around noon, when the cardinals conclude their morning conclave session.

When is hope lost for the morning vote?


Tuesday ‘fundamental day’ in papal conclave election process

Today, write the Post's Jason Horowitz and Anthony Faiola, "the cardinals get serious."

“Today is the fundamental day,” said Marco Politi, a papal biographer and a veteran Vatican watcher with the daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano. “It is a referendum on [Italian Cardinal Angelo] Scola and whether the papacy will go back to an Italian or cross the Atlantic. For the first time there is a real possibility to have a pope from the Americas.”

If there's only one vote by the cardinal electors today, it will be because they reached a 2/3 majority during their first vote of the day, and chose a new pope.