Catholics saying “change is good” following selection of Pope Francis

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- After the papal selection at the Vatican in Rome on Wednesday, March 13th, some Catholics are saying change is good. They responded with joy and excitement over what they call the "profound message" sent by this selection.

A Mass was planned for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Wednesday evening, where parishioners would say a prayer of thanksgiving for Pope Francis and celebrate what many see as a new day for the Catholic Church.

"Great joy. It happened so quickly, still kinda catching our breaths," Father Jeff Haines said.

Father Haines spent Wednesday afternoon reworking his evening Mass, as the focus shifted from Lent to celebrating the new Holy Father.

Haines called the selection of the first non-European pope and the first Jesuit pope as a profound symbolic gesture from the cardinals.

"It`s not just a European enclave. It includes all cultures, all races, all those different traditions that are so important. Really showed the worldwide nature of our Catholic church," Father Haines said.

David Fulwiler, who attends the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist says he appreciates the new diversity, and said simply, it was time for change.

"Things change. Ratzinger, when he retired, that was a change. The Jesuit pope, that`s a change. It`s good. Change is good," Fulwiler said.

Father Haines said he believes the selection of Pope Francis sends a message to non-Catholics as well. He described the new pope as not only international, but a very humble "common man." He hopes that leads to more open dialogue with people all over the world.

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During Mass at the Cathedral at St. John the Evangelist Wednesday evening, parishioners prayed for, and helped usher in a new shepard of the Catholic church.

Pope Francis' Milwaukee flock likes the sound of his name and what it stands for.

"When I heard the name Francis I wept because that itself spoke to me what his mission will be. He ministers to the poor. Not only the poor materially but those who are poor in spirit," one parishioner said.

Some churchgoers believe geography played a role in the newly-minted Argentinian religious leader becoming the Holy Father.

"I was just so excited that he was from Latin America. It's about time we have a pope from one of the other continents," one parishioner said.

Though former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan was passed up for the pontiff position, few expressed obvious disappointment.

"I think Pope Francis is where we really needed to be," one parishioner said.

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