HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Catholics in the Rivertowns rejoiced and celebrated the election Wednesday of Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis with hope for the future of the church.
"I'm excited about the fact that the new Pope is from South America," said Otto Valle, a UPS worker in Hastings whose family hails from Colombia. "There are so many more Catholics is the Latin American countries. It is a good choice."
In fact, 500 million of the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide live in Mexico, Central and South America. Pope Francis I, who is 76, was born in Argentina to Italian immigrant parents from Turin. His father was a railroad worker.
"We need a Pope that is closer to the people and (Pope Francis I) seems like he is not a part of the political group in Rome," Hastings resident Bill Borowitz said. "I would have preferred someone a little younger."
Harry Rodriguez of Ardsley immigrated to the United States from Argentina 30 years ago and has built businesses in Westchester.
"I was shocked when I heard they had chosen an Argentinian," Rodriguez said. "I think the church needs leaders who can work through all the problems caused by politics and offer help to those who need it. There are many South American Catholics who will be happy to see this choice."
Annette Borowitz was pleasantly surprised by the news that a new Pope had been elected as she left a St. Patrick's Day party at the James Harmon Community Center in Hastings.
"I think we need a good man who understands the needs of the people and gets the church up to date," Annette said. "The church needs to loosen up a bit. I am hopeful that he can deal with some of the problems. It's a happy day and we pray for the new pope."