"I'm very excited!": Local Catholics react to Pope Francis I - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

"I'm very excited!": Local Catholics react to Pope Francis I

Pope Francis I Pope Francis I

It's a simple word but one that was heard repeated over and over Wednesday at St. John Cathedral in downtown, after the name of the new pope was announced -- excited!

It was the first mass in downtown Cleveland where parishioners now know who will be the new head of the church. Pope Francis I from Argentina.

"And that is why today we thank God for giving us the new Pope, Francis...Pope Francis," said  Bishop Richard Lennon.

Cleveland Diocese leader, Bishop Richard Lennon spent time with us this evening.

"I'm very excited. I really am," said Bishop Lennon.

Was he surprised at all by the choice?

"I can't say that I was surprised, all I can say is that the fact that it was done in two days tells me that a sizable majority feel that he's the man," said Bishop Lennon.

Bishop Lennon says he's encouraged for the future seeing as how this new pontiff has seen struggle and poverty first hand growing up in Argentina.

And over at John Carroll University, like many others, folks there were watching and waiting for news about a new pope.  And you can imagine the excitement at this Jesuit Catholic university when the announcement was made.

"I'm walking down the sidewalk and we've got kids yelling across the quad 'first Jesuit pope'," said Katie Marsheus, John Carroll University Sophomore.

But it's not just the students who are celebrating the election of a Jesuit pope.

"And the teacher came bounding in and he was super excited. It's the first Jesuit pope. Can you believe it? It's history. He let us out early which was super exciting," said Marsheus.

In many ways, it's a ground breaking day for the Catholic church.  

"I was very struck that before he blessed the crowd, he invited the crowd to bless him," Professor Edward P. Hahnenberg, JCU Theology Professor. "We've had now two great teaching popes and my hope is that now we will have a pope that's not just a teacher but also a learner. A pope who is able to listen. That I think is a big challenge."

"Viva la papa. I'm happy during this season of Lent that we have a new Pope," said a local Catholic. "It's exciting. I think over all it's the first Latin American Pope, right. The first Jesuit. So that's a new start for us!"

President Obama released the following statement concerning Pope Francis I: 

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. 

As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God. 

As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. 

Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.  We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.

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