Selection of Argentine Pope Sends Global Messages
New pope is the first from Latin America but has strong European connections.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a 76-year-old who will be called Pope Francis, hails from Argentina.
"My first reaction is that it's a symbolic move to ease the papacy out of Italian hands," said Philip Jenkins, an expert in global religion at Baylor University. Many of the cardinals on the short list to replace Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned last month, were Italian. (Watch: A look inside the Vatican.)
"It's the first shift beyond Europe, and so it's historic," said Jenkins. (Related: Science Behind the Vatican's Smoke.)
At the same time, the choice of Bergoglio—who is of Italian descent and who is from what is likely the most Italian country outside Italy—represents a safer and more traditional choice to lead the church