PEORIA - The announcement brought about excitement for young students.
Students at Peoria Notre Dame High School held a moment of prayer after hearing the news Wednesday afternoon. One student says the selection of a Latin American pope is big for social issues in his native country.
Senior Juan Barzallo is from Ecuador and hopes Pope Francis will shed light on the poverty and poor government plaguing many Latin American countries.
"It's hard for someone from Europe to really understand the situation back in Latin America, or South America. So to have someone like closer to your background is going to be easier to relate to and to understand your problems," said senior Juan Barzallo.
School president Msgr. Mark Merdian thinks Pope Francis will be good for Catholic schools because he is a Jesuit, an order that prides itself on education. He says the selection of Pope Francis shows the universality of the church. He hopes the new leader speaks up for issues facing the church worldwide, including the controversial U.S. healthcare debate.
"Obviously he speaks to the whole world about the importance about religious issues and religious freedoms and about the holiness. And so what I think he will do is hopefully he will be involved in meetings with the federal government eventually with the United States and might be able to bring a perspective to the table," he said.
Peoria Notre Dame High School will have mass Thursday to pray and talk to students about the new pope.