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Catholics Throughout Sacramento Region Celebrate Election Of New Pope

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It’s a new day for the Catholic Church as the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics have a new pope — the first from the Americas.

Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina is the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and will be called Pope Francis I.

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires was elected on the fifth ballot Wednesday, ending the conclave on its second day.

The election of the new pope set off a wave of excitement throughout the Catholic community far and near. In Sacramento, Catholics are proudly talking about their new Holy Father.

The bells tolled at Sacramento’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and a banner reading “habemus papam” hung to tell everyone of the news — we have a pope.

“I’m excited, very excited,” said one church member.

“We have so many people around the world looking at this Catholic Church today, it’s just a wonderful feeling,” said another member.

Sacramento parishioners are happy to look to a new leader, and for many there is hope with a new pope.

“They have come to consensus very fast, which is very interesting. They are confident and happy in their decision,” Father James Murphy said.

He expected it to take much longer and prays the new Pope Francis I will move the church forward.

“We want change. We want a more effective bureaucracy at the Vatican. We want more transparency. We want more effective dealing with the sexual abuse crisis,” said Murphy.

Murphy assured the new pope has received that message, especially when it comes to dealing with allegations of sexual abuse.

“The statistics came in, and we began to realize, yes it is a real issue, it needs to be addressed,” he said.

While challenges are ahead, Wednesday also marked a huge move, the first Latin American, Spanish-speaking pope.

“I never thought I’d see a Latino pope in my lifetime. So yeah, it is a source of pride,” said one Latin American church member.

Parishioners attending mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Stockton learned of the news in a rather unique way.

Right before the afternoon mass, the priest told everyone to keep their cell phones on so they could all share the news.

It’s not everyday that St. Mary’s encourages people in the pews to keep their cell phones on.

“I told them all, ‘you have orders to leave your phone on and to turn off the ringers. I want you checking your cell phones,’ ” said Father Dean McFalls.

And just a few minutes into Wednesday’s noon time mass, the news spread.

“During mass, of course, one person raised his hand. He had received a text,” said McFalls.

McFalls shared the news with the dozens attending mass, but not everyone wanted to chance missing the big announcement.

“I was a little late because I was listening to the radio and wanted to know who it was, and I was jumping in the car. I was very happy,” member Beatrice Carlos said.

Some new Catholics look forward to learn more about Pope Francis I.

“I just became a catholic during Pope Benedict’s time as pope and I’ve just really appreciated his ministry. So I’m excited to see what our new pope is going to do,” said Sharon Piasecki.

Church leaders quickly changed the colors being used inside the church from purple to white, which signifies celebration.

However, it’s not just adults that are excited. Younger Catholics at St. Francis Catholic High School are expressing their faith in the man who will lead the church into the future.

Missing class to soak in history, students watched and waited along with the world, moments away from seeing the new pope.

“Whoever it is, I’m sure that’s God’s calling,” student Erin Cairns said.

With tissue in hands and eyes brimming with tears, Cairns watched as the name of the new pope was finally announced.

“He’s God’s chosen person and I think he’s going to be amazing,” said Cairns.

“When the curtains were moving, I definitely said a prayer that whoever it is, is able to lead us and be confident,” student Aspen Bonini said.

The students seemed to grasp this is a lifetime memory.

“This is just a step in bringing the modern world to the faith we have built in so many years,” said Fidler.

They have a new leader and vision in a new chapter for a faith steeped in 2,000 of history.

“It’s so exciting that we have someone to lead us in our church now,” said Bonini.

It’s a communal moment connecting not just Catholics, but people around the world.

“We do drama and mystique really well. Just to see the whole world looking at our church, it’s a beautiful time,” said Miles Foley, a campus minister.

The election of Pope Francis means something quite special to the Hispanic Catholic community.

“It’s very nice for us, a leader, a big leader in our church because he will represent us, all of us Hispanics,” said Juanita Alfaro.

Father Rodolfo Llamas of Our Lady of Guadalupe National Shrine says the selection is a representation of the Catholic Church today.

“It’s nice because it’s the first time from this side of the world which is now very active Catholic,” said Llamas.

Blaire says he believes the cardinals looked at several factors when deciding who would become the next pope and believes where Pope Francis is from was one of them.

“I think, to have a pope coming from Latin America will give them a great sense of well being as a member of the church and as a Latino,” Blaire. “It certainly says where the Catholic Church is, that we have a strong Catholic population from Latin America.”

Some Hispanic Catholics believe it means change. It is change they’ve been waiting for in the church for more than 2,000 years old, carrying on tradition while making history at the same time.

“We are getting something new, different,” member Carlos Vina said.

Many were impressed by how Pope Francis asked people to pray for him.

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