Catholics around the world and locally celebrate the new Pope

By Audrey Williams

March 13, 2013 Updated Mar 13, 2013 at 10:44 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- The Catholic Church has a new leader. The cardinals have elected Pope Francis the First.

From the Vatican City...to here in Peoria...there were signals, sounds and celebrations of a new pope.

Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I greeted the world Wednesday.

Peoria Catholic Diocese Bishop Daniel Jenky said it's another step in the long history of the Catholic Church, "The whole church has been praying that the Holy Spirit would guide the Cardinals. For somebody like me, it is a moment where God has spoken through those Cardinals."

At Peoria's Notre Dame Catholic High School Father Adam Stimpson says he came in on his day off just to share in the excitement with his students.

"It's kinda the first real time they're able to have a greater conscious awareness and experience and share that excitement with Catholics around the world," said Stimpson.

Francis the First, a fitting name, since he is the first Latin American Pope and first Jesuit to serve.

Bishop Jenky said the exact Saint Francis he chose to be named after has yet to be revealed, "There are many Francis' who are Saints. Francis of Assisi is well known. However, there is a famous Jesuit Saint, Saint Francis Xavier, a great missionary."

He is a man described as humble and a champion of the poor.
Now the world will watch as he leads Catholics into a new chapter.

"I hope he leads us into greater lives of holiness, greater service to our neighbor, everything Christianity is all about, that he inspires us to serve the Lord with greater zeal," said Bishop Jenky.

Even if you aren't Catholic, Catholic leaders hope this can be a bright spot in a world full of war, hatred and poverty.

Father Stimpson said, "I would extend that invitation to people that are not Catholic to pray for us and for the Pope. It might be a time of greater unity and peace in the world."

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