East Tennesseans react to new pope

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., holds up a copy of the 2014 Budget Resolution as he speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- As soon as the white smoke hit the air at the Vatican Wednesday afternoon, local Catholics jumped for joy.

"Very exciting to think we have a new leader of the Catholic Church," said Kathy Brennan.

"It was really cool because it's a moment in history no one will forget," said Aerin Rhodes, a student at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

A day the world had been waiting for, but didn't think would come so soon, not even Bishop Richard Stika with the Diocese of Knoxville.

"I was sitting at home working on my taxes for a few hours because I thought there was no way the pope would be elected today," Bishop Stika jokingly said.

But he and thousands of others around the nation watched as Argentine Jorge Bergoglio became the newest Bishop of Rome, and the first Latin American to be named pontiff.

Lourdes Garza, director of the Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of Knoxville, spent the afternoon getting reaction from hispanic leaders.

"Certainly a sense of pride to have that tie as being a hispanic or latino," Garza said.

Many of the reactions were similar to that of Elena Morales who told Local 8 News from the minute she saw the smoke, she already loved the new pope.

Many said whoever's name was announced they would have celebrated and greeted with good faith.

Bishop Stika will be visiting Rome next month. He said he's looking forward to meeting Pope Francis.

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