U.S. Catholics Gather For Sunday Service With Pope In Mind

Catholics around the country head to mass Sunday, the first Sunday since the elevation of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis. We hear from parishioners in Nashville, Tenn., and Phoenix, Ariz.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

MARTIN: Catholics around the country head to Mass today, the first Sunday since the elevation of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis. Today, the new pontiff said Mass for a few hundred people at a church just inside the Vatican walls after stopping on the street to greet well-wishers. Later, he made the first Sunday window appearance of his papacy to a much larger crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square. In a moment, we'll hear from a Chicago priest and a leader of American nuns. But we begin this Sunday morning with reaction to the new pope from Catholic parishioners in Phoenix, Arizona and Nashville, Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We come to worship...

GILBERT LEBRON: I'm Gilbert Lebron(ph). I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. And I think this is an opportunity to have a new beginning in the Catholic Church.

KEN SCHMIDT: My name is Ken Schmidt. I am so excited about the new pope. I know already some people who have left the church for whatever reason have come back already this weekend and said they are so excited about the decision of who they've picked.

JOANNA YOUNGMAN: My name is Joanna Youngman. He's just down to earth, just like one of us. He doesn't wear red shoes. He wears shoes just like your or I would and he's just a - just an everyday person, I think. He'll be good for the church.

NANCY TIERNEY: I am Nancy Tierney. I found myself surprised that I am that enthusiastic about this because I grumble a lot about my church's teachings. Yet I found myself feeling pretty good about it.

STEVE REMP: I'm still anticipating to see what he's going to do. My name's Steve Remp(ph). I'm a retired public defender. I just hope he gets respect back for the church because I think most people now are disgusted with what happened with these children.

LUZ CAMPOS: I'm Luz Campos. Many things are going on in the church and the people are uncertain with their religion, maybe he will establish some rules and things without too improve the image of our religion.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Lord have mercy.

CONGREGATION: Lord have mercy.

MARIA LAMPILLA AGUINADA: I am Maria Lampilla Aguinada(ph). My first reaction was of surprise. And then it was an overwhelming feeling of happiness because the world has turned to the new world, to Latin America.

SISTER LETICIA REGALA: Yeah, I'm Sister Leticia Regala(ph), a sister of the divine savior. I think the church to be more compassionate and open their eyes of sharing the goods and the gifts that they gifted with.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHATTER)

MARTIN: Voices from parishioners of St. Edward Catholic Church in Nashville and St. Francis Xavier in Phoenix.

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