Once Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the new leader of the Catholic Church, he had a big initial decision to make: what his new papal name would be. Bergoglio chose Francis as his new name, the first pope to select that moniker. Choosing a new name is a decision that's tied up in history, tradition and more than a little symbolic value. In papal tradition, newly elected pontiffs choose a name to identify themselves during their reigns. The tradition has been around for centuries, even though no law or rule requires that a pope pick a new name. Chester Gillis, a professor of theology at Georgetown University, said that the pope's choice of name offers an early indicator of what his papacy might be like. "The pope's choice will reflect his own personal spirituality, but he knows it will send a political message," Gillis said. Gillis said the pope's new name could also indicate the theological direction he wants to take during his reign. Popes usually choose names to honor a predecessor or to symbolically link their reigns with that of a past pontiff.