|Habemus Papam. Pope Francis|
From a purely secular geography perspective his election is fascinating because it represents the meeting of the Old and New Worlds. He is the first non-European pope in the last 1,500 years. He is the first non-European pope not from the greater Mediterranean region. He is the first pope from the Western Hemisphere and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere.
Like most non-European popes he is of European heritage, both his parents were Italian emigrants in Argentina. Though this fits him in quite well in Argentina which is not part of Mestizo Latin America but culturally more European with 50% of all Argentinean having some level of ethnic Italian in them. He is not the part of the monolithic Mestizo-Latin America-stereotype most people have but part of the multicultural realm that thrives within Latin America.
Here is the new map of non-European popes
View Map of Non-European Popes in a larger map
Of the now twelve popes born outside Europe, at least two were of ethnically non-European origin: Peter (Jewish) and Constantine (Assyrian). Up to three more, the Africans, may have been Berber. So between 0.75% to 1.88% of all Popes were of non-European ethnicity. Of the 266 officially recognized Popes, 217 have been ethnic Italians (including Pope Francis of Argentina) while 17 were French and 13 were Greek (though this includes ethnic and cultural Greeks who were from Greek Italy and Greek Asia).