Before the conclave, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) had published a list of potential pontiffs who they felt might sweep their concerns under the rug, as well as a list of candidates they believed would lend an open ear to their concerns. Pope Francis was on neither list.
The 76-year-old is the first pope to take the name Francis. He does so in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, revered among Catholics for his work with the poor.
As pope, he brings together the first and the developing worlds. Latin America is home to 480 million Catholics -- around 40% of all those in the world.
The pontiff is seen as a conservative in doctrinal matters, as was his predecessor. As a cardinal, he clashed with the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.
However, Francis' first public appearance as pope -- when he appealed for the crowds to pray for him before he gave a blessing -- suggested a "different pastoral style" from that of Benedict, who took a more academic approach, said Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.
Also, on the ride back from the Sistine Chapel to the Santa Marta residence, he declined the papal car that had been prepared for him and instead took the bus with other cardinals, Lombardi said.
In Buenos Aires, Francis chose to live in an apartment rather than the archbishop's palace, passed on a chauffeured limousine, took the bus to work and cooked his own meals.
As a Jesuit, Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus, one of the biggest and most important orders in the church.
Jesuits are recognized for their exceptional educational institutions and focus on social justice. They have a reputation for avoiding positions of power.