Pope Francis chose to begin the first day of his papacy with a visit to a Rome’s Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica – for private prayer.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was elected by a conclave of Roman Catholic cardinals on March 13. He succeeds Benedict, who resigned last month.
Bergoglio is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Latin America is home to 42 percent of the world’s Catholics.
The new pope has long pastoral experience. Unlike Benedict, he is not an academic or a Vatican insider.
Bergoglio’s election came as a surprise to many Vatican watchers, who had not included him on their lists of front-runners.