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Local Catholic leaders react to election of Pope Francis

Published On: Mar 13 2013 10:14:34 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2013 08:27:11 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Catholic leaders in the Big Country anxiously awaited the introduction of a new pope Wednesday.

Pope Francis, previously known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, was welcomed by the Catholic community Wednesday.

“Myself and the people that have been receiving the news, we're delighted to know that we have a new pope and we have a man who's already shown that he is a great leader and he has a great concern for the needs of the people, especially the poor," said Bishop Michael Pfeifer of the Diocese of San Angelo.

"It happened very quickly, so he must have made a great impression early on," Holy Family Catholic Church Pastor Frederick Nawarskas said.

Nawarskas said Francis brings new light to many who need a leader.

"The church has many challenges awaiting it, and I think this new pope seems to be up to the challenge," Nawarskas said. 

Leaders in the Catholic Church said having a pope from Latin America is a huge deal. Bishop Pfeifer said he expects Pope Francis will reach Catholic groups that haven't been represented by their holy leader in a long time.

“Some 40 percent of the Catholics in the world live in Latin America and I’m sure he'll be very sensitive to their needs,” Pfeifer said about the Argentinean pope. 

Pfeifer said he is excited to meet Pope Francis later this year when he travels to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

 "He has shown that he himself lives a simple life and I think we can call him already a pope of the people and a pope for the poor,” Pfeifer said.