Rome, Italy — White smoke arose from the Sistine Chapel this evening in Rome, signaling to those watching that a new pope had been selected to lead the Roman Catholic religion.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was announced as being the successor of Pope Benedict XVI, a Jesuit Argentinian who was elevated to the role of cardinal in 2001 after serving as archbishop since 1998. He appeared dressed in white as the curtains opened on the balcony of St. Peter’s.
“First and foremost, I would like to pray for our emeritus Pope Benedict XVI that Christ and the Madonna watch over him,” he declared to the hundreds of thousands gathered, who began screaming as his image came into view. “Let us begin this journey together, this journey for the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a journey of friendship and love and faith between us. Let us pray for one another; let us pray for all the world.”
Bergoglio stated that one of his first acts as pope will be to pray to Mary, or as he referred to her, the Madonna.
“Tomorrow, I want to go pray to the Madonna that she may protect Rome,” were his parting words after asking the masses clutching rosaries to participate in a moment of silence. “Good night and good rest.”
Bergoglio has reportedly chosen the name “Francis” to be his papal name after St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for helping the poor.
The election of Bergoglio comes two days after 115 cardinals from 48 countries sequestered themselves inside the Sistine Chapel to deliberate who should be the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinals were required to be shut off from the outside world, as telephones, internet and all forms of media were prohibited. A two-thirds majority, or 77 votes, was required for the election of the new pope.
Much attention has been focused on the papal election over the past few days, as many have fixed their eyes upon the smoke that arose from the chapel to see whether the billowing smoke would be white or black — a sign of whether a new pope had been chosen.
“The world’s attention is focused on the Vatican just as it did when John Paul II died,” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries told Christian News Network. “Many evangelicals referred to him as ‘holy father,’ and yet he was the most unholy person.”
Gendron said that calling anyone “father,” such as the name given to the pope, is unBiblical.
“How dare anyone take the name ‘holy father’ that is reserved for God alone,” he said. “The papacy not only steals that title, but it also steals the head of the Church, which was given to Christ, who purchased the Church with His own blood.”
Gendron noted that the pope is sometimes also wrongly referred to as “the Vicar of Christ.”
“[That is] a title reserved for the Holy Spirit,” he explained. “Jesus said, ‘I must go, but I will send someone in My place,’ and He was not referring to the papacy, but to the Holy Spirit.”
Rick Warren, author and megachurch pastor of Saddleback Church in California, however, was enthusiastic about the election of the new pope. As previously reported, Warren called for fasting and prayer yesterday for the cardinals that would be voting on the matter.
After Bergoglio was appointed as successor today, Warren Tweeted to his over 900,000 followers, “Welcome Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. You have our prayers.” He included the hashtag “habemus papum,” meaning “We have a pope!” He also re-Tweeted a post from Piers Morgan, which stated, “Pope Francis 1 is renowned for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the feet of 12 AIDS patients.”
“No, Mr. Warren. Christians don’t have a pope,” remarked one reader. “YOU might have a pope, Mr. Warren, but followers of Jesus Christ do not!”
Gendron asserted that the concept of a pope is unscriptural in the first place.
“It goes against the Bible. It goes against Scriptural authority,” he outlined. “In Matthew, Jesus said [not to] be like the Gentiles, which have a hierarchical structure to rule over people, and when you look at the Bible, the authority is Christ and His word.”
“Every evangelical church is to submit to the authority of Christ and His word, and the leadership of each church is made up of deacons and elders,” Gendron continued. “In fact, Peter, who Catholics believe to be the first pope, declared himself to be a fellow elder. He never once referred to himself as the head of the church, nor did he ever in Scripture have the authority to rule over anybody. He submitted to the Scriptures.”
Jesuits, the order to which Bergoglio belongs, are known historically as those who influenced the counter-Reformation of the 16th and 17th century, fighting against the influence of Protestantism around the world, and seeking to conquer entire regions for the cause of Roman Catholicism. Bergoglio marks the first Jesuit pope throned in Rome.
“The goal of every pope has been to make the entire world Catholic,” Gendron stated. “They’re into world dominion. … Their eschatology is that Jesus won’t return until the world is Roman Catholic.”