Valley Catholics react to Pope Francis' election - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Valley Catholics react to Pope Francis' election

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Pope Francis will visit his predecessor, Benedict XVI on Thursday.  Benedict was the first Pope to step down in 600 years and valley Catholics are weighing on the announcement.

At St. Mary's, Catholics from all over came to mass and they were emotional, surprised and very proud.

"I just had to come.  I really did.  It's just a wonderful, wonderful day for the church," said Anne Petera.

"It's just an amazing event right now that I feel so proud to be part of," said Melinda Simental.

Dozens of Catholics came to pray and give thanks for a new Pope.

"I came to give my respects to St. Pope John Paul II," said Yomahira Villalobos.  "I prayed a lot to him to give him a good Pope and that was very exciting."

Many believe Pope Francis from Argentina will usher in change within the Catholic church.

"It was really time for the church to turn to the part of the world where we're growing and where there's been massive numbers of faithful for years and years and years," said Petera.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead of the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix added, "What's very significant for me about this new election is we have someone from what we call the new world, so America has a new Pope."

Olmstead says he can't wait to meet Pope Francis and says he can already tell a lot about the way the Pope will lead the church, by his name choice.

"I think it indicates that he really wants, like St. Francis, to bring a whole new energetic engagement with the world, including the non-Christian world."

"With all the controversy that's going on, it saddens me to even think of people losing their faith, but we need to stay strong and be happy and hopefully, this Pope will do that for us," said Villalobos.

The Diocese also states they believe Pope Francis will have a greater understanding of issues we're facing here in the U.S. and in Central and South America -- that includes immigration.

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