BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Catholics around Kern County hope the new pontiff can bring change to the church already impacted by scandal.
The announcement came as a surprise for many Catholics we spoke with today who also became a bit emotional when they found out the new pontiff was born in Latin America.
Maria Damian didn’t expect cardinals to vote so soon for a new pope.
“There are many things to talk about when it comes to the future of the church. I am happy and I’m enjoying history being made,” said Damian.
Damian has watched coverage of the conclave closely and was overwhelmed when she found out Pope Francis is the first pontiff in more than in a millennium to be born outside of Europe and from Latin America.
"For me it's a big moment. I think it's a big moment for Hispanics in the United States and around the World," said Maria Damian of Bakersfield.
Angel Sullivan could hardly believe the news.
“I don’t believe it and I was surprised,” he said.
So he quickly turned to social media where friends and family commented on his Facebook page.
“He is from Argentina and we hope this is something positive for the catholic church so we can be free of all the trouble that has happened in recent years,” said Sullivan.
It’s a mutual feeling from young catholics who faith leaders have been working hard to get back into the church.
“It’s a good thing for the Latino people because it gives us more hope knowing that the Catholic faith is going to be run by a Latino, Its history in the making,” said Alan Avendano from Bakersfield.
Avendano says the new pope has a lot of work ahead of him including dealing with new technology, which can sometimes make it hard for faith leaders to reach people his age.
"The new generation will be a lot different than when I was growing up. I have younger siblings and she’s always texting stuff and she rarely listens to my mom. Maybe it’s one of those things that I don’t think might happen,” he said.