Michiana reacts to Pope Francis - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Michiana reacts to Pope Francis

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Catholics heading to mass at St. Matthew's in South Bend Wednesday say they are overjoyed with the news of a new pope.

Parishioners say they are still learning more about Francis, but believe he will be a good leader for the Catholic Church.

They say they're excited for a new direction with the first Non-European Pope in a millennium.

Adrian Reimers says, "I am tickled! Muy Feliz! How's that, something in Spanish, to see a Latin American Pope."

"I'm just really hoping that Francis I, our new Pope, brings us together and brings people back to the church," says Sidney Blanchet.

Mary Reimers, "I'm just delighted. Everytime they check off one of his accomplishments, I'm just like, 'wow is this all one person?'"

Students at St. Joseph High School in South Bend learn about the Catholic religion every day, so Wednesday was particularly special for them as they witnessed a piece of their religious history.

FOX 28 was there as they found out who was chosen to be the next leader of their church.

Not much of an outward reaction at first as students in the senior theology class watched their new pope come to the balcony.

Many initially questioned who he was, but then once they learned a little more about Francis, "I was so excited. I was like, 'yay, we finally got the Pope!'" says Senior Yecica Diaz.

Junior, Eric Mossey says "I was excited. I was really expecting someone from Europe or something. Argentina is a good changeup."

The big moment Wednesday afternoon, came just before the bell rang in Mike Hamann's class. He's happy his students got the opportunity to witness it.

"It's very exciting. Got to see history happen right here in front of us and thank goodness it happened before the bell rang," says Hamann.

Hamann says this piece of history has kept students engaged the past month, especially given the circumstances with the resignation of Pope Benedict the Sixteen, the first Pope to resign in nearly 6 hundred years.

"That was unique and there were a lot of questions about that and what that would mean. So I would say that there's a lot more interest in this change than there was in 2005," says Hamann.

Students say they're hopeful their new Pope will take the Church in a positive direction.

"I hope that he can unify the church. Make people want to come back to church. That would be something really great," says Diaz.

"I think it's going to be good for Catholics. It's going to unite us in a very profound way," says Hamann.

It's been a busy day for religious studies professors, trying to learn all they can about Francis. 

Dr. Joseph Incandela from Saint Mary's College says at first he was surprised by the choice.

He says he thought the Cardinals would elect someone younger.

He says when it comes to which direction Francis the First will take the church.

He believes he'll be conservative when it comes to same-sex marriage, but a little more liberal when it comes to social economic issues.

He says Francis may be a bridge between past and future Popes.

"It's opening a window, but it's not opening a window all the way. Maybe that's the next election. Things change in increments," says Incandela.

Incandela says because Francis is not a Vatican insider, it's clear the Cardinals were going for someone with more Pastoral experience who isn't close to anything happening in Rome right now.

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