Pope Francis: Catholics, Argentinians react to new pope

The word emerging from so many Catholics who attended a Thanksgiving Mass Wednesday night is “hope” and that this election is the work of the Holy Spirit.

“I embrace the Roman Catholic Church as my family and today we have a new Father. It’s very emotional,” says Kathryn Baran, who attended the mass at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew in northwest Washington.

Only hours earlier, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected to the papacy. Celebrations erupted in St. Peter’s Square and around the world for Pope Francis.

“I hear that a new pope has been elected so I wanted to pray for the new pope,” says Mariano Rivas.

Catholics attending the mass say they hope Pope Francis brings them closer to Christ while navigating the myriad of challenges facing the church.

“I was appreciative of the fact that he was a Jesuit. I went to a Jesuit university and I feel like they are more progressive and more into social justice issues which is what I want to see the church go to,” says Patricia Literte.

The remarkable moment, the ascension of the spiritual leader of more than a billion people, was not lost on Father Joe Corpora.

“It has the power to grab the whole world,” says Father Corpora, who is in town on business, rushed to make the mass to celebrate and to pray for a pope who has quickly won him over.

“Just his very person will be a source of healing. When he smiled he just won my heart. I said ‘I love this pope.’”

The election of an Argentine pope means the world currently has its first non-European pope in 1,200 years.

Inside the Chimichurri Restaurant and Bakery in Rockville Wednesday, dancers practiced the Argentine tango while news of the Argentine pope flashed on the television screen overhead.

“It’s a good representation for our community, the Latin community,” says Carlos Dilaudo, who was born in Argentina. He says the local Argentine-American community was stunned by the news.

“We never expect that it’s going to be from Argentine. I’m very happy for that,” he says.

At{ } nearby El Patio, owner Dante Ribulotta remembers hearing Jorge Bergoglio give homilies as he was growing up in Argentina.

“He’s been there forever.”

Bergoglio was accused of not doing enough to stand up to Chile’s former military dictatorship, but Ribulotta remembers him this way.

“Sometimes he’s taken long to talk about things, but in the end he has stood up for our beliefs as Christians and Catholics and that’s what we’ll remember the most and that’s why he’s a pope right now.”

Matias Smulevich is from Argentina’s large Jewish community and thinks the Catholic Church made a good choice.

“The pope not got good relations with the Jewish community down in Argentina, so I think it’ll be very good for the country.”