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      Diocese of Little Rock reacts to election of Pope Francis

      It was a moment Catholics across the world had been eagerly awaiting. The newly elected pope appearing on the balcony above St. Peter's square Wednesday afternoon.

      Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio will take the name Pope Francis. Despite being 76-years-old, he was able to impress the cardinal electors

      "Broggolio stood up and spoke strongly and clearly about some of the problems that these cardinals were talking about.. and I have the sense that this is not man who is passed his prime.. this is a man who could really come in and make the changes that needed to be made," said Father James Martin, ABC News Papal Contributor.

      Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock released the following statement Wednesday.

      "I take special pride in the electionof the first pope from the Americasand am inspired by his personal humility and his commitment to social justice.Many details in Pope Francis' personal history resonate with that of Catholicsin Arkansas.His parents were immigrants (Argentinais a nation of immigrants like the United States) and so I rejoice inthe election to the papacy of the first son of immigrants in modern history.Moreover, he is a Hispanic Catholic from the Americas,and Hispanics constitute the largest group of Catholics in the United States -55 percent of Arkansas Catholics.

      "I can see already the working of theHoly Spirit in choosing a man well suited to lead the Church amid thechallenges we face today. His years working with the congregations (offices) inthe Vaticanwill help him address problems that have emerged recently in the curia. Hisclear teaching on the right to life from conception to natural death, on theinadmissibility of homosexual marriage and on the imperative to protect thevulnerable from all forms of abuse will enable him to give clear leadership inthese and other issues we face today. And as the first pope from the Third World and the southern hemisphere, he will bringspecial sensitivity to the challenges faced by the Church in these regions inwhich two-thirds of Catholics live worldwide.

      "I rejoice in the election of Pope Francis and I pledge to him my prayer andsupport and that of the Catholics of Arkansas."

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