Priest: Pope gives hope and pride to U.S. Latinos
The pick is also good news for Catholic Latinos in the United States, said the Rev. Juan J. Molina, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops associate director for the church in Latin America.
"He is also the son of migrants. And for us, Hispanics in the United States, this is very important. ... I think that this topic of migration is going to be very important for him," Molina told CNN en Español. "And we, the Hispanics, the Latinos that now live in the United States ... we can also take some hope and pride that this pope intimately knows and has deeply lived the life of a migrant."
Bergoglio's selection also sends a significant message throughout Latin America, Molina said, where the Catholic faith has had a strong presence for centuries.
"The election of a Latin American pope demonstrates that we are now empowered with this faith," Molina said. "The church in Latin America is a mature church."
Even the new pope himself alluded to the fact that the church had reached farther than ever for its papal pick.
In his first speech from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, he quipped Wednesday that cardinals had gone to "the end of the world" to find him.