Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock says Pope Francis is well-suited to address the church's challenges and that he reacted with "surprise and delight" at the selection.
Taylor said Wednesday that having a pope from Latin America will bring a "special sensitivity" to poorer regions of the world, where two-thirds of Catholics live.
Claibanne Williamson of Little Rock, a Catholic who works in research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, says it was thrilling when she saw Pope Francis walk onto the balcony. Williamson says she hopes Francis can clear up Vatican scandals and expand the church. In Pope County, the Rev. Chuma Ibebuike, pastor at St. John's in Russellville, says this election had a jovial feel because Pope Emeritus Benedict is alive.