Wednesday's events all started a little after noon local time, when white smoke could be seen pouring out of the chimney at the Sistine Chapel. The white smoke indicates a new pope has been chosen through the conclave. It was then shortly after 1:30 that newly selected Pope Francis appeared in front of the world for the first time to offer his first blessing as pontiff.
It's a big day for the Catholic Church, it's the first time in history a Latin American pope has been selected, Francis comes from Argentina. The cardinals only needed two days to come to a decision this time, compared to weeks or months in the past. So this quick turnaround was unexpected by at least one local priest.
Rev. Michel Mulloy says, "I was really surprised at how short it was. What that says to me, at least as far as I understand the process, is that the cardinals, or at least a majority of them, came to a consensus rather quickly about this man and the gifts that he brings to the Church. So that's exciting and interesting that there is a support for him that came so quickly in the conclave."
Bishop Robert Gruss who leads the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City says he is surprised but very pleased. He says it’s good the cardinals selected a representative from South America.
“The Catholic Church is strong in Latin America and I think by selecting a pope from Argentina Speaks of that in a very clear way. And, I believe this the new Pope will have the opportunity to unite the Catholic Church throughout the world. And, bring life to those areas of the world where the Church isn’t so strong."
Francis, the name the new pope has chosen, is a much-beloved Italian saint who is identified with peace, poverty and a simple lifestyle. We'll have to wait and see if Pope Francis takes a more progressive or traditional approach to leading the more than one billion Catholics around the world. But it is said the 76-year-old considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the Church.