It's the news many Catholics in Chico, like Mary Johnson have been waiting to hear. "I think it's exciting that we have a new Pope, and I think everybody has been anticipating this. Everybody is happy." Amy Gluchowski added "I think everyone is really excited. Even if you're not Catholic, it's something to celebrate."
While there was plenty of excitement about the decision alone, many are also happy to welcome a Pope from Argentina, and say it's nice to finally have a leader that calls the America's home. Jason Weinrich told Action News "he was definitely an underdog. Nobody really thought it was going to be him."
The addition of a Pope from the America's is something church leaders, like Father Tim Nondorf of St. Johns Catholic Church in Chico say goes a long way with the base of their followers. "42 percent of all Catholics are from Central, and South America. So, he does have a strong connection with the majority of Catholics."
The choice of Cardinal was not the only surprise according to Father Nondorf. He says the announcement also came much earlier than expected. "We were taking wagers amongst the priests about how fast this would happen, and I was thinking it would be next week."
Although this is an exciting time for Pope Francis, Father Nondorf the new church leader cannot afford to celebrate for long. "He's going to have to continue to deal with the sexual abuse issues that have happened throughout the church." Aside from the problems of the past, Father Nondorf told Action News the new Pope will also be taking on a cause close to his heart as a Jesuit. "That would be the mark of his papacy. Care for the poor, care for the disenfranchised, and care for the earth is all part of the hallmarks of St. Francis."