|Father Cerlouie Jimenez stands in the sanctuary of Immaculate Conception Church in Kelowna. He said the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope Wednesday heralds "springtime" for the Catholic Church.|
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio generated excitement and car honks - especially in Latin American countries - when he emerged on the ceremonial balcony at the Vatican as the newly elected pontiff on Wednesday.
The 76-year-old hails from Argentina, making him the first pope chosen from outside Europe since the Middle Ages.
"It's a very positive story. We're excited about it," said Joanne Fulop, a parish
secretary at St. Theresa's Church on Rutland Road.
"He was a wonderful choice."
About 42 per cent of the world's practising Catholics live in South America. Father Cerlouie Jimenez of Immaculate Conception Church said the election heralds "springtime" for the church in general.
"I believe a South American pope will do a great job in terms of leading people to Christ, especially in the secularized world we're living in right now," Jimenez said.
Many Canadians were rooting for Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was purported to be on the short list to replace former Pope Benedict. Jimenez didn't pay much attention to the so-called competition.
"Once you enter the conclave, you still come out as a cardinal."
Bergoglio was believed to be the second choice when Pope Benedict was elected eight years ago. He's a low-profile Jesuit whose main focus is the interests of poor people in the world, said Fulop.
"That will work well for the people of South America," she said. "I don't think he's as conservative as others in the past because he's already modernized the church in South America."
Jimenez commended Benedict for stepping down as pope - the first to do so in centuries - instead of waiting to die. He called it an act of courage.
"He set a good example. The papacy is not about the man. It's about Jesus leading the church, not just the pope leading the church. It's a great manifestation of his dedication to the church."