Tri-Cities Catholics Applaud the New Pope

<p>Elma Deleone</p>

Elma Deleone

<p>Sarah Zepedo</p>

Sarah Zepedo

<p>Trent Mercado</p>

Trent Mercado

The eyes of the world were on the Vatican today, as a 76-year old Argentinian Cardinal became Pope Francis.

The new leader of the Roman Catholic Church is a champion of the poor, and the first Latino Pope ever.

Already his choice is making an impression on the Catholic community in our region.

In Pasco the eighth grade class at St. Patrick Catholic School watched history unfold.

Over at the church, Father Daniel Barnett says Pope Francis symbolizes change and makes a big impact for this area.

"We have a tremendous number of people and they come from all over the Americas - Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, United States, Canada... We have a broad, diverse population and this pope is one of us," said Barnett.

Meanwhile at St. Joseph's Church in Kennewick, several parishioners were gathered for their weekly bible meeting when news of the white smoke arose.
For Dr. Elma Deleon, the election of the pope is a calming moment.

"We are very happy because it symbolizes stability, you know, with our head in place now," said Deleon.

Parishioner Dolly Mauss says it is an historic moment.

"I'm very excited, very excited. The process is so quick for one thing, and that it's so organized... I like that too," said Mauss.

Father Richard Sedlacek says it'll be a hard act to follow after the last two pontiffs, but the goal is to find a new way for the church to fit into our changing world.

"He had big shoes to follow, but again [we need] to meet the needs of the times, to try to keep the faith alive," said Sedlacek.

Catholics are depending on this new pope to bring change to the church and pave the way for the next generation.
"It's a pope that we can see when we are adolescent right through to when we are grown up," said eighth grader Sarah Zepeda.

"The Catholic Church in America is a little different from the Catholic Church in Europe and so I think he could bring some new ideas, said eighth grader Trent Mercado.

The 266th Pope is not only the first non-European, but he is also the first Jesuit, and an intellectual.

He is credited with modernizing much of the conservative Catholic church in Argentina.