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MN Embraces Election Of Pope Francis The First

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The new leader of the Catholic Church greeted the world today from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

More than one billion Catholics around the world joined in celebration with the 150,000 in Vatican City.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina, was elected just after 1 p.m. CST as white smoke filled the air above the Sistine Chapel.

He's the first pope to choose the name Francis, but that's just one of many firsts.

He is also the first pontiff from the Americas, the first to be elected after a papal resignation, and the first Jesuit pope.

The colors of the Vatican are tied to the doors at the Basilica in Minneapolis, where a celebratory Mass will be held Thursday at noon.

It's all in honor of a man many describe as humble -- riding city buses, making his own meals, and living in a small apartment rather than the archbishop's palace.

Minnesota Catholics felt united on Wednesday, none more than Ali Gardner due to her daughter's name – Claire Francis.

"I felt a really strong connection with Catholics around the world," Gardner said. "She was named after St. Francis."

The pope chose his new name because St. Francis was committed to helping those in poverty, and living the simple life.

Those may be good traits for a pope who will face major issues as the church moves forward, including sex abuse, gay marriage, the ordination of women and priest celibacy.

"He's a compromise candidate who is well known for his theological ability, but also for his personal faith and holiness," said Don Briel with the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas.

Briel says Pope Francis will likely lead much like his successor, Pope Benedict.

"He'll remind the faithful that the end of Christian faith is holiness not governance or cultural attitudes," Briel said.

Many local Catholics WCCO talked to were touched that the new pope asked them to pray for him.

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