New Pope; Local Catholic Leader Pleasantly Surprised

By KBJR News 1

March 13, 2013 Updated Mar 14, 2013 at 2:12 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - More than 1.2 billion Catholics in the world have a new leader.

Earlier Wednesday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected by the conclave.

The 76 year old Cardinal will be known as Pope Francis I.

Catholic officials we spoke with are pleasantly surprised about the man they call humble and worthy of his elected position.

Pope Francis is the first non–European elected to the position in more than one thousand years.

The newly elected Pope is also the first Jesuit and he is the first Latin American Pope.

This is also the first time in history that the name Francis has been chosen by conclave officials.

Pope Francis the First was considered in the race for Pope during the conclave in 2005, according to leaked diaries.

At around 3:00PM CT, the smoke turned white above the Sistine Chapel, cheers broke out in St. Peter's square, as well as right in Duluth.

The leader of the St. John's Catholic Church on the East side of the city says he is excited to see how the man will move forward as the new Holy Father.

"To have somebody from the new world...it's like that is a first. The first Jesuit...the first non–priest to become a pope in about 170 years and so there is a lot of really president at least in recent years that we are seeing right now...it's really exciting," Father Richard Kunst, a priest from St. John's Catholic Church, said.

"I'm just over joyed. The whole school here. The feeling like it was in Rome in a smaller way just electrified here. Everyone is so excitied...kids were jumping up and down and running around," Kevin Pilon, a St. John's Catholic Church Youth Minister, said.

Father Kunst says Pope Francis I has been living very modestly, adding that he resides in a one bedroom apartment, which is rare for a cardinal.

The Pope's modest ways, Kunst says, may have played a role in giving him the upper hand when being elected into the position.

Justin Reis, NNC.