Shortly afterward, Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauron, a French cardinal, stepped out onto the balcony looking over St. Peter's Square and announced the name of the new pope — Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will from now on be known as Pope Francis.
Pope Francis is the first of many things. He is the first Jesuit pope, the first Latin American pope, and the first pope to choose the name Francis.
Father Robert Mathieu, the priest at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Bloomfield, said there is some debate over which St. Francis the new pope chose as his namesake. The most popular speculation is St. Francis of Asisi, however some people say it could be St. Francis Xavier, a fellow Jesuit.
Mathieu said he believes Pope Francis was thinking of St. Francis of Asisi. By choosing to name himself after St. Francis of Asisi, Mathieu said the new pope is saying he wants to be thinking of the poor and the humble.
"He looked humble," Mathieu said.
Mathieu said he had a feeling the new pope would either be Latin American or African. However, despite being non-European, Mathieu said Pope Francis has a familiarity with Europe, which may have contributed to the Cardinals' choice.
Pope Francis studied chemistry in Germany and speaks multiple languages, including Italian. He also pursued his theological degree in Germany.
Mathieu said the Jesuits have traditionally been known as scholars. The Jesuits were founded to be defenders of the pope and his teachings, Mathieu said.
Pope Francis will try to focus more on what the Vatican Council II meant rather than what it has been interpreted to be, Mathieu said.
The Vatican Council II, more commonly known as Vatican II, took place in 1963-1965 under Pope John XXIII, Mathieu said. He said the most dramatic, visible changes that were caused by Vatican II were each priest praying the mass in the native language of the area and having the altar face the people.
However, there were a lot of other changes that started there.
The emphasis shifted to "the people of God" having more of a voice, Mathieu said. He added it was a dramatic change from the past.
While choosing the new pope, Mathieu said the cardinals probably took into consideration who could continue the work of the previous pope and last a while. Pope Francis is 76, which means he could possibly be pope for the next 10 to 15 years, he said.
The pope isn't only an important figure for the Catholic Church. Mathieu said in addition to being seen as the leader of the Catholic Church, he will be a prominent religious leader. Whether or not people agree with his teachings, Mathieu said that when the pope speaks, he speaks for the entire Catholic Church — all 1.2 billion members.
"He's a person for everyone, in a certain sense," Mathieu said.
Nonetheless, Pope Francis will face challenges.
Mathieu said there is still a lot of outcry from the priest pedophilia scandals, which will be one of the biggest things Pope Francis will face. In addition, Mathieu said the new pope will have to deal with the recent Vatican scandal involving thousands of leaked documents.
That scandal, now known as Vatileaks, involved a butler leaking documents that included some of Pope Benedict's private papers and letters.
Shortly before Christmas, Benedict pardoned the butler, but some have speculated the stress of Vatileaks may have contributed to his decision to resign.
Hannah Grover may be reached at email@example.com; 564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover