The Vatican has sought to quell controversy over Pope Francis' conduct during Argentina's so-called Dirty War, amid accusations that he could have done more to protect two Jesuit priests who were kidnapped.
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ROME (CNN) -- Jorge Bergogolio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected pope on Wednesday, the first pontiff from Latin America to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Bergogolio, who will be known as Pope Francis, was elected by cardinals in what was apparently their fifth round of voting on the second day of their conclave.
Dressed in white papal vestments, Bergogolio first appeared to the world from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
"As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome," he told a cheering crowd of thousands packed into St. Peter's Square.
"It seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosed one who is from faraway. ... Here I am. I would like to thank you for your embrace."
Until last year, Bergoglio was the archbishop of Buenos Aires before stepping down because of his age. He is 76.
Bergoglio is considered a straight-shooter who calls things as he sees them, and a follower of the church's most conservative wing.
He has clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.
CNN's Richard Allen Greene and Hada Messia reported from Rome.
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