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Catholic worshippers erupted in applause Wednesday at the Buenos Aires cathedral upon learning that the former Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina had been elected Pope Francis I.
About 200 somewhat surprised worshippers gave the new pontiff a standing ovation after the announcement, as crowds and media descended on the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is overlooks the historic Plaza de Mayo.
Crowds of people and mobile television crews rushed to the area outside the cathedral where the new pontiff used to give mass as archbishop of Buenos Aires and primate of Argentina.
"I am surprised; I did not think they would elect Bergoglio. He is the first Latin American pope and that is going to be a huge plus for the region," said Gaston Hall, 37, a publicist who described himself as a practicing Catholic.
Claudio Bonani, 42, a businessman from Brazil who also rushed to the church upon learning the news, predicted that Bergoglio would provide a "great papacy."
"He is a simple man, and he has a lot of compassion for the neediest," Bonani said.
President Cristina Kirchner also hailed the election of Bergoglio as the first pope from Latin America, wishing him great success.
"We wish him, as he takes the reins of the Church, a fruitful pastoral mission, with such tremendous responsibility on his shoulders, seeking justice, equality, brotherhood and peace among mankind," read a statement from Kirchner, who is Catholic but does not have a warm personal relationship with the pontiff.
Bergoglio, elected to lead the world's Roman Catholics, is a humble rail worker's son who became a Jesuit priest and is seen as true to his working class roots.