South Floridians praise new pope

Published On: Mar 13 2013 05:16:07 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 13 2013 11:37:22 PM EDT

Roman Catholics throughout South Florida react to the election of Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff of the modern era.


Roman Catholics throughout South Florida reacted to the election of Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff of the modern era.

Jorge Bergogolio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected pope on Wednesday, the first pontiff from Latin America to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

SPECIAL SECTION: Pope Francis elected

Argentineans were excited about the news.

"We never expected an Argentinean pope," said one woman.

"We were watching it here live with a whole bunch of our customers and when we saw the white smoke come out, everybody's like, 'Oh my God, we're going to get a pope. We're going to finally get a pope,' and when we hear Argentina we're like, 'Is this for sure?'" said Gabriela Pasquariello of Buenos Aires Bakery. "This is the first Latin American pope that there is, so he's now representing a whole -- not only the Argentineans, a lot."

Silvina Sanavria, who lives in Miami Beach, said she felt proud.

Worshippers sung in Pope Francis' native tongue at Ermita de la Caridad, Our Lady of Charity Catholic Church, in Coconut Grove.

Spanish-speaking parishioners praised God during Wednesday night mass. They prayed for a long life for Pope Francis and for guidance by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

“I think there’s gonna be change in the church and he wanna fix some problems we have there,” said Carlos Goynes.

Cuban Americans and exiles also joined other Latinos, the fastest growing segment of  the Catholic Church, in taking special pride in the Holy Father's Hispanic heritage.

“We are very proud. He's the face of humility,” said Annie Ortiz. “I think the Latin community, the Hispanic community will be very proud as well as all the Catholic community at large.”

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Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio elected new pope

At St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, students found out about the new pope on Twitter and Facebook.

"I was very surprised but at the same time excited because I am also from Argentina, Buenos Aires, exactly where Pope Francis was born," said Diego Sanchez. "I'm excited and at the same time very curious and hopeful to see how he's going to address the issues that the Roman Catholic Church is facing nowadays."

"I think most people in the world generally are surprised that we have a pope that's actually the first pope in history from the Americas, so it's very interesting and it just shows you that truly the Holy Spirit did act," said student Jorge Jimenez.

"It's even wider than just having an impact on South Florida or the fact that it's a Latino," said Rev. Monsignor Franklyn Casale, the president of St. Thomas University. "This, for the first time, demonstrates how universal the papacy is. It's the first time the papacy is actually out of the Old World, so to speak, and into the New World."


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