SAN DIEGO - The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese in San Diego said Wednesday he was "delighted" at the selection of Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as pope.
Bergoglio, of Buenos Aires, is the first leader of the worldwide Catholic Church to come from the Americas. He will be known as Pope Francis.
Asked his reaction at a news conference, Bishop Robert Brom said he was "delighted and surprised, surprised because the selection of this pope represents a shift from Europe to Latin America."
Brom said he doesn't know the new pope personally, but said he was impressed that the new pontiff asked people to pray for him.
"Pope Francis, he's quite an impressive character," said University of San Diego student Michael Mazzarella. "He's the first Latin American Pope and the first Jesuit Pope, which folks here are very excited about."
Mazzarella said he was on his computer when he learned that Pope Francis had been elected. He ran to find a television set on the campus right away.
"I heard the news first on Facebook, so I hurried over to the center to where I knew somebody had to be watching it," he said.
Sure enough, he found what he was looking for like other students, inside USD's Student Life Pavilion. Televisions around the room showed every moment of Pope Francis' introduction.
"There hasn't been a Pope from Latin America, so I am excited because I consider myself Latino," said USD student Bryanda Barrios.
Barrios told 10News that she learned that a new Pope had been selected on Twitter and Facebook in between classes. She then ran to the student center as fast as she could.
"There was like a lot of people and I had to like literally jump up to see because all of the people were gathered there," Barrios said.
Brom issued the following statement regarding Pope Francis:
"With the Catholic Church worldwide, all of us in the Catholic Diocese of San Diego embrace with love our new universal pastor, Pope Francis.
We look to Pope Francis to be a humble instrument of unity and peace in the Church and in the world.
We pray that he will be led by the Spirit of Jesus to champion a new evangelization in order to place God at the center of all human life and cultures.
We pray that he will address problems in the Church and in the world by promoting those values and practices which, true to St. Francis of Assisi, will bring about a civilization of love.
We anticipate that Pope Francis will manifest the same shepherd's care which we found in Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and for which we are grateful."
On Wednesday evening, dozens of Catholics gave thanks in the pews at Our Lady of Angels in Sherman Heights.
"Of course being Latin gives us a lot of pride, but we see beyond that, being Catholic," said Daniel Gastelum.
Pope Francis the first is described as humble and all about the people.
"Picking the name Francis... it tells the church we need to focus on the poor," said Father Joe Carroll. "If he makes the church what it should be: a servant church. All the rest will fade."
Father Joe, who has dedicated his life to serving the poor like this newly-elected pope is hopeful that Pope Francis and his fresh approach will help rebuild trust in the church and help draw people closer to the Vatican who may feel distanced now.
"'Maybe I can't reach the pope, but if that's the way the pope acts, well, maybe I ought to try out my neighborhood priest again,'" he said.