East Texas Catholics celebrate new Pope

East Texas Catholics celebrate new Pope

East Texas Catholics waste no time praying for the newly appointed Pope Francis. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson met up with local Catholics to talk about the new Pope.

Dozens of East Texans took their lunch hour Thursday to attend a special celebratory thanksgiving mass, greeting each other saying "Habemus Papa", or "We have a Pope!" They prayed for the new leader of the Catholic church because they said now, more than ever, the church needs to be re-energized.

"That is very refreshing because I am Hispanic, I understand his language," explained Adriana Neal.  It's been an exciting week for her and her two children Felix and Isabel. 
"I was actually watching and following with my sisters," Neal said. "We were waiting anxiously for the smoke!" 

Aside from being the first Latino Pope and first Pope from the new world, Adriana said Wednesday's announcement was even more special to her. "I was very emotional because my mother's name was Francesca and all of us, we just got teary-eyed because it was very emotional because of the name that he chose." 

"He chose the name Frances after St. Frances of Assisi," said Father Anthony McLaughlin. He said like the man the Pope named himself after, he hopes the Argentinean will help reform the Catholic church. "There is a statement by one of the church fathers 'Ecclesia es semper refermenda', the church must always be in a state of reformation. Of course, this does not mean coming away from doctrine and dogma, it means living it more intensely."

His church body agreed, and Neal hopes Pope Frances will be a positive influence on the next generation too. "I hope it just continues to grow and bring younger people into the church, into the religion, younger people. I think his attitude and the way he speaks, I've heard him speak and he's kind of funny and it'll bring younger people to our church."

A strong desire for a congregation over one billion strong.

Even though Catholic churches around the world are celebrating the new Pope, four victims of a sex scandal involving a priest in California spoke out Wednesday. A new settlement awards nearly $10 million to each victim.

Father McLaughlin said no dollar amount can heal or excuse what happened. "It is a great crime, it is a great sin before god to have abused your pastoral care in this way and so we look to the holy father to give great guidance to the bishops of the world, to the clergy, to the church, that we truly have zero tolerance. there is no place in the priesthood for someone that would do these things."

The inaugural mass for Pope Francis takes place next Tuesday in St. Peter's square. The Vatican said no tickets are required. Everyone is invited.


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