BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, 76, a quiet intellectual, was sworn in as the Catholic Church's first pope from the Americas on Wednesday.
Pope Francis, as he chose to be called, was elected on the second day of a conclave of cardinals. He is the first Jesuit pontiff.
Bergoglio has the pastoral experience that had been billed as important for the new pontiff.
"Bergoglio's voice carries weight within the Vatican structure," Argentina's ambassador in Rome, Juan Pablo Cafiero, said before the pope's election Wednesday.
The new pope is also a prominent figure in Argentine affairs -- perhaps another asset for a man whom experts think should reform a church damaged by divisions, child abuse scandals and allegations of corruption.
Born the son of a railway worker on December 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Bergoglio became a Jesuit in 1958.
He studied in Argentina, Chile and Germany, where he obtained a doctorate in philosophy.
In 1963, he was ordained a priest. He became bishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and in 2001 was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.
He reportedly placed second in the race that led to the election of Benedict XVI in 2005. In that election he was among the favorites; this time around he was regarded as an outsider, due to his age and his relatively delicate health.
He has a mixed reputation in Argentina, where the Catholic Church has been criticized for its failure to uphold human rights during the 1976-83 Argentine military dictatorship.