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Upon News Of Argentine Pope, Latin Americans Are Overjoyed

Pope Francis goes into history as the first Pontiff from the New World.

For Latin America in particular, this is a momentous occasion: It is home to 483 million Catholics or a little more than 40 percent of the global population.

Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina of Italian parents. At one point, he was the archbishop of the Buenos Aires diocese, which The Wall Street Journal reports, has "the largest concentration of Catholics in the world."

Perhaps no one expressed the feelings of Latin America better than the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa.

"We have a Latin American pope! We are living historic moments without precedent," he tweeted in Spanish. "Que Viva Francisco I!"

Vatican TV reported that churches across Buenos Aires were ringing their bells. The AP reports that on the streets, cars beeped their horns.

The AP adds:

"'It's incredible!' said Martha Ruiz, 60, who was weeping tears of emotion after learning that the cardinal she knew as Jorge Mario Bergoglio will now be Pope Francis.

"She said she had been in many meetings with the cardinal and said, 'He is a man who transmits great serenity.'"

Gabriela Michetti, whom Argentina's El Clarin calls a confidant of Jorge Bergoglio, as the pope was known, was overjoyed.

"I cannot believe it. I cannot believe it," she told the paper. "I can't talk. Let me enjoy this."

The paper reports that in the background, the reporter could hear "screams of euphoria."

This a breaking news story. We'll update as we receive reaction.

Update at 5:51 p.m. ET. 'A Great Surprise':

Gabriel Castelli, the president of the commission on justice and peace of Argentinian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told us that there was "much happiness and surprise" about Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's election.

He said that Bergoglio is known in Argentina as a very humble person.

"While he was cardinal, he always used metro," he said.

Castelli said that for Argentina, this will bring more visibility and an emphasis on closing the "level of inequality" in the world.

Update at 5:25 p.m. ET. An Ovation For The Pope:

The AFP reports that upon learning that Jorge Bergoglio had been named pope, Catholic worshippers at the Metropolitan Cathedral In Buenos Aires.

The wire service adds:

"Crowds of people and mobile television crews rushed to the area outside the cathedral where the new pontiff used to give mass as Archbishop of Buenos Aires and primate of Argentina.

"'I am surprised; I did not think they would elect Bergoglio. He is the first Latin American pope and that is going to be a huge plus for the region,' said Gaston Hall, 37, a publicist who described himself as a practicing Catholic."

Update at 4:45 p.m. ET. A Fruitful Task:

Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner sent a letter to Pope Francis.

"In my name, in the name of the Argentinean government and in representation of the people of our country, I want to express my congratulations," she wrote. "It's our wish that as you begin your work and guide the church, you have a fruitful pastoral task..."

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