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Catholics praise a groundbreaking new pontiff

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New Orleans, La. - Pope Francis is a pontiff of many "firsts." He is the first to take the name Francis, the first Jesuit and the first from the Americas.

As millions waited for the news from  Vatican City, Dr. Nicolas Bazan was watching every development from New Orleans.  Bazan is the director of the LSUHSC Neuroscience Center.

"When I learned Jorge Bergoglio was elected, it was a very very special feeling," said Bazan.

Dr. Bazan was born in Argentina. He and his family moved to New Orleans 32 years ago. "The growth of Latin America is exponential in population. I think this message is going to create hope and wishes in the young people to become Catholics and stronger Catholics and be closer to the Catholic faith," he said.

"It's delightful to have a Jesuit Pope," said Assistant Professor Daniella Zsupan-Jerome. She's will the Loyola Institute for Ministry. St. Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus known as the Jesuits.

"Taking that message out and serving people where they are and revealing their service and interaction, the goodness of the Gospel... I think those are really neat things the Jesuits are about and that is what comes to mind for me.  And for this person to be of that charisma and to be in this leadership position is exciting to watch."

Something else she says is exciting is the new pope's diverse background. His father was Italian, he was born in Argentina and he studied in Germany.

"In that, he's really a bridge builder which is what the word 'pontiff' means, a bridge builder that's able to connect all corners of the world to the ministry of Christ to what he called to serve and live," said Zsupan-Jerome.

She also says it's important to note the pontiff's reputation for living a simple life. "He takes the bus. He cooks his own food and he does not shy away from reaching out and really getting immersed in causes for the poor," said Zsupan-Jerome.

"It's very well known that his first devotion is the poor and the needy and the sick," added Dr. Bazan. "He is somebody who will truly truly lead by example and I believe this is going to be very very meaningful to the Catholic Church."

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