PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The election of Pope Francis is a historic moment. He's the first pontiff from the Western Hemisphere.
Until now, Pope Francis has spent his entire career in Argentina. In addition to being humble, people who know him say he's conservative and committed to social justice.
Following the announcement, local Catholics are weighing in on his election.
Maria Ferreyra, of Point Breeze, expressed her excitement and pleasure over the election of an Argentinian cardinal to be the new head of the Roman Catholic Church.
KDKA's Ralph Iannotti Reports:
Ferreyra is a native of Argentina, but is now an American citizen.
She teaches economics at Carnegie Mellon University.
"It's a very special to know that Pope Francis has walked the same streets that I have walked, that he's taken the same public transportation I have, that he has seen the same political manifestations I have," Ferreyra told KDKA-TV News just a few hours after the new pope was introduced to the world.
Ferreyra's parents and brother still live in Argentina.
Meanwhile, just moments after 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the church bells tolled at Saint Paul Cathedral in Oakland.
The mother church of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese is home to an estimated 700,000 Catholics.
KDKA's Ralph Iannotti Reports:
Fr. Kris Stubna, the cathedral rector, said he rang the bells as soon as the white smoke appeared from the Sistine Chapel chimney in Vatican City, signaling the election of a new pope.
Fr. Stubna said for the church "this was a period of great joy and excitement, having a new spiritual leader," a man who he thinks understands the challenges facing the church.
As for the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop David Zubik says he welcomes Pope Francis
Bishop Zubik says it has been an emotional day for him.
"Once again, we see how alive the church is and the direction that the spirit gives us," he said.
KDKA's Andy Sheehan Reports:
Bishop Zubik said the new pope "brings with him the experience of a dedicated pastor who has served the church so well in his many years of ordained ministry."
"It's always very clear when a pope chooses a name that he wants to send a particular message," Bishop Zubik added. "I think that the message that our Holy Father has already begun to let us know is that he wants to be a shepherd of the people."
Over on the Bluff at Duquesne University, students - like the rest of the world - watched with anticipation as word traveled that white smoke had been spotted coming from the Sistine Chapel.
"I'm sure there will be some changes, especially with the youth of the church," said Paul Slegelmilch, a sophomore. "I think the younger crowd is hoping for some changes; I'm not sure about the older generation, but I'm sure there will be some changes along the way."
KDKA's Lynne Hayes-Freeland Reports:
For these young adults, the historic moment in the Catholic Church comes with a sense of wonder and hope.
it is the first time they can recall watching the nomination and election of a new pope. So with that comes a sense of wonder and hope.
"I wasn't really expecting anything. I was just praying they chose the person that was best," said Olivia Goodwin, a freshman.
Pope Francis Local Reaction
But from a historical perspective their hopes for change may be just a little bit overly optimistic this soon.
"I think Cardinal Bergoglio though, his record is very orthodox," said Dean Nick Cafardi, of the Duquesne University Law School. 'I don't expect him to start making all sorts of changes. And really, when you think about it, it's unrealistic to expect the cardinals to pick somebody who is not really in their mold."
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