Updated repeatedly from 3:18 to 6:40 pm EDT
White smoke in Rome: Better than any exit poll.
This is how the word was spread, online:
HABEMUS PAPAM \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/
— VaticanCommunication (@PCCS_VA) March 13, 2013
A cardinal, by tradition, would announce this — Latin for “We have a Pope” — from the balcony of the Vatican.
But Vatican Communications beat the balcony to the Internet.
As Bloomberg’s Julianna Goldman notes, President Barack Obama got the news from his deputy chief of staff, as the president met at the U.S. Capitol with Republican members of the House:
Deputy COS Rob Nabors gave POTUS note about #newpope and POTUS read it out to applause in the mtg w House GOP, per source in the room
— juliannagoldman (@juliannagoldman) March 13, 2013
Not every day the President breaks the news to you that there’s a new pope. Blessings on Pope Francis I. This is a historic day.
— Michele Bachmann (@MicheleBachmann) March 13, 2013
The president’s people later joined the tweeting — though tweets from this account are only the real Obama when signed “bo:”
Obama on Pope Francis: “I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security, and dignity for our fellow human beings.”
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 13, 2013
The president will dispatch Vice President Joe Biden, the highest-ranking Catholic politician in the U.S., to Rome for the celebration.
“I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his Inaugural Mass,” Biden said in a statement e-mailed by the White House. “The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths. I look forward to our work together in the coming years on many important issues.”
Democratic operative Paul Begala had his own take on the event:
Rumor has it Karl Rove is challenging the vote count in the Conclave.
— Paul Begala (@PaulBegala) March 13, 2013
When the announcement finally came at the balcony, it was Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio — the first pontiff from the New World. His chosen name: Francesco I.
Once again, Vatican communications:
Nuntio vobis gaudium magnum HABEMUS PAPAM Francesco I
— VaticanCommunication (@PCCS_VA) March 13, 2013.
And for the 1.8 million followers of the Vatican’s Twitter account:
HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM
— Pontifex (@Pontifex) March 13, 2013
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic who had been with Obama at the Capitol, had this to say to reporters: “Reaching out beyond the traditional continent of our church is another big step in the right direction for the church.”
From his personal account, Boehner later joined the tweeting:
— John Boehner (@johnboehner) March 13, 2013
The speaker also weighed in from his speaker-account:
Thanks be to God for our new pope, Francis I j.mp/ZLYqSr U.S. Catholics offer prayers & blessings to His Holiness
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) March 13, 2013
The White House released an e-mailed statement from Obama about Pope Francis:
“ As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than 2,000 years—that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. ”
Then, there was this:
Bad news for Argentina: No country has won the World Cup during the papacy of a native-born pope.
— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 13, 2013