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Mar 13, 2013 9:35 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Tucsonans react to new pope

TUCSON - Parishoners were overcome with emotion as the new pope was elected this afternoon.

Several church-goers were attending a noon mass at St. Augustine Cathedral this afternoon when the news was announced, many surprised by what was one of the fastest elections in recent history.

From Argentina, the new leader of the Catholic church will be known as Pope Francis and is the first Latin American to hold the position.

Sister Gladys Echenique is from Argentina but resides in Tucson. She has met the man who would become the new pope several times -- a man she said had a strong history of advocating for the poor.

"I was here during mass and somebody announced during the middle of mass and when they say [he's] from Argentina, it's like 'oh my goodness'," Echenique said.

Monseigneur Raul Trevizo said that he never thought he would see the day when a Latino pontiff was elected.

Many Tucsonans see the new pope as signal for a bright future within the church.

"I'm so excited because I feel it in my heart that he is going to fix all the bad things that are going on in the church," said Connie Torres, a hopeful parishoner.

His deep Latin roots is something Bishop Kicanas said will definitely resonate throughout Southern Arizona.

"I think with the large Spanish speaking population we have here in Southern Arizona, I think they're very thrilled that Spanish is his first language," Trevizo said.

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