The crowd in St. Peter's Square erupted into cheers Wednesday evening as white smoke poured from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, signaling the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope Francis, the 266th supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church.
Francis, chosen from among the 115 cardinal electors that participated in the two-day conclave, was introduced moments later from the balcony in front of St. Peter's Basilica.
Jorge Bergoglio becomes the first pope from South America.
Pope Francis succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down on Feb. 28.
The Archdiocese of Washington has announced that Bishop Barry Knestout will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the election of Pope Francis at 5:30 p.m. in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle (1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington).
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori will also celebrate mass at 5:30 p.m. in the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen (5200 N Charles St., Baltimore).
Upper Marlboro: what is your reaction to the election of Pope Francis? Are you happy with the decision? Do you think it signals any significant changes in the direction of the church, or do you expect things to continue as they did under Pope Benedict XVI? Let us know in the comments.