He is known as a humble man who takes the bus to work and cooks his own meals. From an evangelical background, with a traditional theology, he is likely to be strong on reform.
The identity of the new Pontiff, who takes the position after the former Pope resigned, was announced by Cardinal Protodeacon Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran.
Bells are ringing out and thousands are cheering "Viva il Papa!" and waving flags in St Peter’s Square in Rome after the smoke rose after the second vote on the second day of the Conclave, the gathering of the cardinals. And among the faithful Twitter followers around the world, it was noted that the account @Pontifex re-appeared.
The Catholic Church has been run by a college of cardinals, headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, while the election of its new leader was taking place.
The group, all of whom must be younger than 80, convene in secret and are locked inside the Vatican until they elect a new Pontiff. Any candidate needs a two-thirds majority to be elected and the college members are sworn to secrecy.
The new Pope is expected to appear on the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica within an hour. Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation threw the church into turmoil and exposed deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a manager to clean up a Vatican bureaucracy embroiled in recent scandals.
The new Pope, the 266th, will be tasked with reviving Catholicism in a time of growing secularism and providing spiritual leadership to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The current Conclave has been one of the fastest in years, with the successful candidate elected on the fifth ballot. Each day, two ballots are taken in a bid to reach a decision on the new Pope’s identity. They are burned immediately afterwards.
The quick election was a surprise given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation.
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.