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Argentine Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope. Jorge Bergoglio chose the name Pope Francis and is the first ever pope from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
After announcing "Habemus Papum" - "We have a pope!" - a cardinal revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name.
"I would like to thank you for your embrace," the new Pope said.
Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict XVI - who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.
"As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome. It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am" he said, adding that he thanked the church "for your embrace" as well as the cardinals who elected him.
"First and foremost, I would like to pray for our emeritus pope, Benedict XVI. Let us pray all of us together ... so that he's blessed by the lord and guarded," he said.
Francis was elected to the papacy after two days of conclave meetings with five rounds of voting. Voting in the conclave, which began Tuesday afternoon, is confidential and cardinals were sworn to secrecy, but Francis received at least 77 votes, which is the minimum two-thirds required to become pope. There were 115 cardinals eligible to vote in the conclave. All were under 80 before Benedict's retirement, as required by Vatican rules. In 2005, when Benedict was elected, it took two days and four votes to elect him.
But he has shown care for people with HIV and AIDS, such as in 2001 when he visited AIDS patients in a hospice, where he washed and kissed the feet of 12 patients.