The bells that rang out as the white smoke wafted from the Sistine chimney were echoed in Catholic churches around the world, spreading the word about the new pope.
In countries such as the Philippines, which had their own candidates for the papacy, the news was greeted with prayer and thanksgiving.
One woman in Manila on hearing the news said: “He led a simple life, he is humble. It seems he has all the traits, and I think he can do the job.”
Cardinals from Africa had been among the front-runners. In Nigeria, many welcomed the fact that, even if the new Pope was not from their continent, his election represented a break from tradition.
In Lagos, one man said: “It has always been an Italian, from Italy they went to Europe and I was hoping that this time it will go to Latin America because it is an older church. I am sure that after this, it will come to Africa.”
Elsewhere in Africa some expressed the hope that Pope Francis would bring a new perspective to the Catholic Church.
Johannesburg priest Fr. Russell Pollitt said: “I think it is fantastic that there is a pope that’s from the Southern hemisphere, and I think just what many people in the church thinking should be the case, because the church is definitely growing in the Southern hemisphere, most especially in South America and Africa, and Asia, so I think it is exciting that there is a Pope who will come with a different perspective to the European mind, which we’ve had before, and see maybe the world in a slightly different way.”
In Venezuela, the acting president Nicolas Maduro suggested the late President Hugo Chavez had a heavenly hand in the outcome.
In televised comments he said: “We know that our commander ascended to those heights and he’s face-to-face with Christ. He had an influence for the choosing of a South American pope. Some new hand came in and Christ declared: “Well, South America’s time has come”.