American Catholics react to the new pope

Elaine and Michael Alvarez stopped by Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles as the announcement of the newly-elected pope came.
CBS News

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES - With Wednesday's election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope, some of the tens of millions of Catholics in the United States offered their reactions to the news.

Elaine and Michael Alvarez stopped by Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles just when the new pope was announced.

"I'm hoping that people will recognize that they are trying to be a little more progressive, getting another you know a pope from another region, and that'll bring our faith back. Because right now it is -- it's very shaky in our church and that's sad to see," said Elaine.

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Victoria Santiago wants the pope to restore confidence in the church.

"Many people either question the faith or got out of the faith," she said. "I hope he will be able to make them return."

With 75 million members, the United States has the fourth largest population of Catholics in the world. One third of those are Hispanic, the fastest growing segment of the church population.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said the new pope can identify with their concerns.

"He understands [the] reality first of immigrants," he said, "because his family is an immigrant family from Italy. I understand his parents immigrated to Argentina from Italy, so he knows the reality of immigrants in a new country."

According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, more than half of Catholics in the U.S. believe the church is out of touch with their needs, especially on issues like birth control, ordaining women and allowing priests to marry.

Just how Americans will react to the conservative philosophy of the new pope remains to be seen. On Wednesday, they say, they're hopeful that a new era of communication between the pope and the people of the church is beginning.