A Jesuit cardinal from Buenos Aires is the new pope.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, the son of an Italian railway worker, becomes the first Jesuit and first South American pontiff, according to news reports.
He has taken the name Francis, another first.
After the choice was announced in Rome, Orange County Catholics began flocking to Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, although no services have been announced yet, according to Diocese of Orange officials.
The London Guardian and National Catholic Reporter described Bergoglio as a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus, cooks his own meals and lives simply. After being appointed cardinal in 2001, "Bergoglio persuaded hundreds of Argentinians not to fly to Rome to celebrate with him but instead to give the money they would have spent on plane tickets to the poor," the Guardian said.
He also strongly opposed Argentina's decision to legalize gay marriage, saying children should be raised by a father and a mother.
He originally planned to be a chemist, but began studying for the priesthood in 1958, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
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In addition to his advocacy for the poor, Bergoglio believes in contraception to prevent the spread of disease, faces no questions over abuse scandals and would reform the Vatican Curia, according to the Guardian.
Shortly after Francis addressed the crowd at St. Peter's Square, the Vatican issued a tweet via its papal Twitter account. It said in Latin, "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM," which translates roughly as "We have Pope Francis," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Fr. Christian Mondor, a Franciscan priest at Sts. Simon and Jude church in Huntington Beach, said he was "really delighted" the new pontiff took his name from St. Francis of Assisi.
"He has a great interest in the needs of the poor, just as Francis of Assisi did," Mondor said, referring to the new pope's modest lifestyle.
Mondor's colleague, Fr. Daniel Barica, said in a note posted on the church website that his mother had prayed the next pope would adopt the name Francis. "I guess I should be asking her for some lottery numbers!" Barica added.
Barica and Mondor also praised Francis' Jesuit background.
"It's a wonderful thing to have someone so highly educated and a teacher," Mondor told City News Service. "He's very much a scholar and theologian, and yet very down to earth and with the people."
Mondor said he was also impressed by how the new pope addressed the throng outside the Vatican, particularly when he asked the faithful to pray for him.
"It was a beautiful gesture of humility and a recognition that he will need prayer," Mondor said.
Mondor said Pope Francis also appears to be much like Pope John Paul II and noted the two were close friends. The new pope also reminded the Franciscan priest of Pope John, who presided over sweeping reform of the church with Vatican II.
"He seems to have some of the qualities that so endeared John the 23rd to everyone," Mondor said. "This is certainly a sign that we may have another very inspiring pope."
The selection of a pontiff from Latin America was a "great move away from Europe, a very healthy move," Mondor said. "We had hope it would be someone from Canada or the United States, some of us anyway, but coming from Latin America is highly significant. ... It's also a statement of the global nature of the Catholic church."
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