The Catholic church has chosen a new pope.
White smoke is billowing from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, meaning 115 cardinals in a papal conclave have elected a new leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The new pope is expected to appear on the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica within an hour, after a church official announces “Habemus Papum” – “We have a pope” – and gives the name of the new pontiff in Latin.
The conclave was called after Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month, throwing the church into turmoil and exposing deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a manager to clean up a corrupt Vatican bureaucracy as well as a pastor who can revive Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.
The 266th pope now changes into his papal white cassock, and one-by-one the cardinals approach him to swear their obedience.
He will stop and pray in the Pauline Chapel for a few minutes before emerging on the loggia of the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square.
Preceding him to the balcony is French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the protodeacon, who announces “Habemus Papam!” and then introduces him to the world in Latin.
He then emerges and delivers his first public words as the leader of the world’s Catholics.