by: Craig Lucie Updated:ATLANTA —
Atlanta's auxiliary bishop is talking about what it means having the world's first non-European pope.
Bishop Luis Zarama from the Atlanta Catholic Diocese said Pope Francis appears to be a simple man capable of making great change.
"We saw how humble he was asking the people to bless him and to pray for him. It's amazing how a person can change. You see him before the conclave and now it's like, 'wow,'" Zarama said.
Hispanic Catholics cheered at the Archdiocese of Atlanta when they heard Pope Francis, 76, is from Argentina.
"It's incredible! I never thought a pope from this side of the continent would be picked. It's incredible! It says a lot about the decision and the church of nowadays," Tatiana Villa told Channel 2's Craig Lucie.
Villa also told Lucie she feels like Hispanic Catholic voices are being heard.
"It's very important to have a representative in the church," Villa said.
Zarama said there is a feeling that comes with the new pope being from Latin America.
"I think this pope being from Latin America gives everyone a great opportunity to feel close to him," Zarama said.
What surprised many at the Archdiocese of Atlanta and around the world is how quickly the cardinals elected the Catholic Church's new leader.
"This is very soon, but we don't know when Holy Spirit will move. We're very surprised," Pat Chivers with the Archdiocese of Atlanta explained.
The Vatican says Pope Francis won't be calling on his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, but would see him another day. The main item on his agenda is an inaugural afternoon Mass in the Sistine Chapel.
Immediately after his election, Francis spoke by phone with Benedict, who has been living at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo. A visit to him would be significant because Benedict's resignation has raised concerns about potential power conflicts emerging from the peculiar situation of having a reigning pope and a retired one.
Francis, the first Jesuit pope and first non-European since the Middle Ages, decided to call himself Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, the humble friar who dedicated his life to helping the poor.