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[bitsontherun I7TD17HR]COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) -Pope Francis I will lead 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. That number includes thousands of residents right here in the Golden Triangle.

A sea of emotion swept over the tens of thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Square, as Pope Francis I made his first appearance. Tens of millions more watched the proceedings on live television.

“As Catholics were very excited to have a new Pope in charge and as our leader from South America that’s going to speak on behalf of women and just be our new leader in the church,” said Catholic Jennifer David.

Many were surprised to hear that the newly elected Pope is already 76 years old.

“I really thought it would be someone younger, I thought maybe someone in there late 60’s that they could be the Pope longer but if that’s who they choose that’s who it will be,” added Catholic Wanda Holley.

Others are ready to see what type of leadership a Pope from the New World will provide for a church so steeped in European tradition.

“The clarity that I believe that Pope Frances will being is going to be very vaulable to use also and most importantly his focus on the bottom end, the poor, the down truanting, the deserted,” said Catholic George Swalez.

During his time as Cardinal, Pope Francis I was an advocate for increasing women’s roles in the church. The local Catholics we spoke with saw that as a positive.

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