SAN DIEGO – Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope Wednesday before San Diego’s noon mass, becoming the first Latin American pontiff.
“The Hispanic community will be ecstatic,” said retired Catholic leader Father Joe Carroll. “He wasn’t one of the favorites, but he was the best fit.”
“It’s a shift from Europe to that part of the world where the majority of the church lives,” said San Diego’s Roman Catholic Dioceses Bishop Robert Brom.
“As a Latino, he can bring more of a Latino kind of side,” said one woman outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Barrio Logan.
Local church leaders are also looking forward to a pope known for taking the bus to work and visiting AIDS patients.
“Benedict was a theologian. This guys is a people person,” said Father Joe.
“It means the church is willing to begin thinking outside of the box and look at where they really need to go to preach the gospel in a new way,” said Reverend Robert A. Fambrini, S.J. “Something that will grab the attention of young people and those who have left the church.”
One San Diegan said he was worried over whether 76-year-old Pope Francis would have the energy to do the work needed and avoid retirement.
“I do believe we should’ve elected a younger pope,” he said.