Update: Wednesday 3/13/13

White smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel in Rome signifying that a new pope has been elected by the conclave of cardinals.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, 76, from Argentina and a Jesuit, has chosen the name of Francis.  Pope Francis I has championed social programs for the poor in his home country of Argentina and is expected to do the same within the papacy.

Pope Francis I is the first pope in 2000 years to be elected from the new world, which makes his election truly historic. This is a great departure in policy from the Roman Catholic Church in recognizing that 40% of the world's Catholics are located in Latin America.

Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of the Vatican in front of the huge crowd gathered and offered prayers along with a message to the world of love and cooperation for all.


History will be made this week.  Most likely it will.  Vatican City is buzzing and you can bet that Catholics from all over the world will be making the pilgrimage to Rome to greet the new leader of the Catholic Church.  Yes, it's quite a week.  For the whole world as we await the naming of the next Pope.

Today the question was asked of me,

Does anybody care?

When I hear that question I thought, 'you bet.'

Here are some interesting facts I came across that were taken from Reuters:

The pope led the Roman Catholic Church for seven years, 10 months and nine days, which is close to the average length of the 265 popes before him.


His predecessor John Paul II reigned for 26 years, five months and 15 days, making his the third-longest pontificate. The longest papal reign is believed to be that of St Peter, the first pope, who presided for at least 34 years.


One man, Stephen II, was elected in 757 but died four days later before he was officially installed. The shortest reign in modern times was that of John Paul I, who reigned for just 33 days in 1978 before suddenly dying.

The history alone is staggering. Factor in the recent challenges the Church has faced and the word leadership grows in meaning even more.  Soon,  the Catholic Church will have a new leader.

What Kind of leader will he be?  One thing is certain, times have changed.  Technology, social media and the modernization of parts of the world are just a few.   One thing though has not changed and that is,  'those who have and those who do not.'  We live in a very complex world.  One large segment of the world has unimaginable advantage at their fingertips while others don't even have access to clean drinking water.  Whoever is elected the next Pope will have monumental challenges facing him on day one.

So, does anyone really care?   I think they do. Catholics and other religions world wide have their eyes and ears on Rome.  Countries around the world are wondering, will the next leader come from their homeland?

I asked Fr. James Morgan, priest at Holy Spirit Church in Sioux Falls if it was possible that the next Pope could come from America.  He told me he thought that in the eyes of the world America was perhaps viewed as too young of a country for that to happen.  But added, it would be exciting if it happened.

So, where will the next Pope come from?  Who are some of the 'favorites?'  One would be the Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola, who has the support of various European cardinals and a few Americans. If he is elected, the papacy will become Italian again.  Another candidate who should gather a fair amount of consensus is the Archbishop of São Paulo, Odilo Pedro Scherer, a Brazilian.  A third candidate who might stand out from the beginning is the Canadian Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops who is believed to be able to draw to himself twelve votes from South America and the United States.

Are there dark horses out in the fringes that could bring excitement to Church?  Yes.  Who will emerge and lead the Catholic Church on the next leg of it's journey throughout the ages?

Does anybody care?  I think yes!

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Black smoke has poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney, signaling that cardinals have failed to elect a pope on their first try.

The cardinals held the first day of the conclave Tuesday deeply divided over the problems of the church and who best among them could fix them following the stunning resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican made clear it didn't expect a winner on the first ballot.

The cardinals now return to the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel for the night. They return to the Apostolic Palace for Mass Wednesday morning and a new round of voting.