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Local church reacts to new pontiff

The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis has been called a "splendid choice" by a local Catholic church.

"What has been revealed so far is that he is a humble man with compassion for the poor," said Father Thomas Kommers of St. Joseph church in Red Wing.

The staff of St. Joseph was keeping an eye on election coverage throughout the day Wednesday, and was surprised when Bergoglio was revealed as the new pontiff, Kommers said.

He added: "Even when the announcement came, we were all thinking, 'who is this?'"

Born in Argentina in 1936, the 76-year-old Bergoglio became Archbishop of Bueno Aires in 1998, according to a biography on the Vatican website. He is the first pope from Latin America and the first from outside of Europe in more than a millennium.

The choice of a Latin American pope is seen as a clear message from the papal conclave, Kommer said.

"It's recognition by those who elected him of the significance of the Catholic community in Latin America," he said. "It shows an awareness of this thriving and vibrant region."

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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