Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the new pope and leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. He took the name of Francis, for the saint devoted to the poor. At 76, he has become the first Jesuit and the first Latin American pope.
MIami Beach, Fla – In the Little Argentina neighborhood of Miami Beach, where restaurants specialize in Argentine barbecue and bakeries sell dulce de leche pastries and strong coffee on the side, there is palatable pride over Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio becoming the first Pope from Latin America.
"He seems like a very charismatic man," Virginia Pinat, an Argentinean-American waitress and a Catholic, says. "I got really emotional when I saw him. This is really important for Argentina."
Pinat, who has been in the United States for 13 years, says she does not go to Mass every Sunday but hopes that Pope Francis's election on Wednesday will appeal to more Catholics in her community in the U.S. and in her homeland.
The Latin population in the United States is mostly Catholic and I think they are going to be happy and proud to have an Argentinean, a Latin pope, a Latin American pope. I think it is going to be a boost more here than Argentina, probably.
- Horacio Muslera, 49, of Hyattsville, Md.
"I hope that Argentine people will return to the churches a little more now," she says. "We are really delighted that he was named pope."
Across the United States, members of the Argentinean and Latino community shared Pinat's excitement and cultural pride over the historic news.
"The Latin population in the United States is mostly Catholic and I think they are going to be happy and proud to have an Argentinean, a Latin pope, a Latin American pope," Horacio Muslera, 49, of Hyattsville, Md. told Fox News Latino. "I think it is going to be a boost more here than Argentina, probably"
Muslera, an Argentine-American owner of Plus Electric — a profitable small business – has a wait-and-see approach on whether Pope Francis' selection would immediately change the pattern of a decreasing attendance on Sundays.
"I don't think having an Argentinean Pope is going to propel people in becoming more or less Catholic," Muslera added. "I think you are what you are and regardless of how much you practice religion."
Oscar Rabelino, 31, chews on Argentine sausage and skirt steak as members of his family, vacationing from Buenos Aires, pick at the cornucopia of grilled meat on top of their table—a signature Argentine meal.
"I think the rest of the world will realize that this is significant for Argentina and for Latin America," he says in the famous melodious, almost Italian, accented Spanish from Argentina. "It is going to be great for the South American countries."
Rabelino, admits that while he considers himself Catholic he is not fully practicing and is socially Liberal.
"I am one of the ones who do not go to Mass much," he says, steam rising from underneath the hot plate of Argentine ribs." I don't think that's going to change."
His mother, Norma, 58, sits across the table. She says that she attends mass every Sunday, and is staunchly against abortion.
"We hope, as Catholics, that this will spur change in our society for the good", she says, her young granddaughter sitting in the seat next to her, taking a bite of churrasco. "There is now hope, hope that many countries in Latin America will now start to revert their politics."
For Muslera, a diehard Argentina soccer fan, there was another hope when he first heard the news of an Argentine Pope on TV.
"I'm just happy, man. I was hoping that the guy was going to come out in a Boca Juniors shirt," he laughs, referring to the country's world famous professional soccer team.
While the pope has declared he’s a big soccer fan, he did not show off his sport allegiance when he stepped out of the balcony to introduce himself to the world.
"That would have been amazing, but you know," Muslera said.
Serafin Gomez is a Special Events & Politics Producer for FOX News Channel and former special campaign correspondent for Fox News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Florida Politics & Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo.