First 'new world' pope excites many

By Matt Porter

March 14, 2013 Updated Mar 15, 2013 at 12:51 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) As the first pope from Latin America, Pope Francis brings high expectations with him.

Maruja Lander came from Peru more than 20 years ago. She was happily surprised about the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the next pontiff.

"It's the best thing that could happen in this moment to the church," Lander said.

Lander, whose first name is a form of "Mary," said the election will invigorate members of the Roman Catholic Church from Latin America.

"Everybody in South America and all Latinos," she said, "We think we count in the church now."

Like many in Latin America, she expects much from Pope Francis.

"I wish so much that the Roman Curia will change a lot," she said, "To realize that the message of Christ is being poor, and give away all these luxuries."

Lander hoped to see the church address the financial scandals recently plaguing the Vatican.

Pope Francis lived as a Jesuit, an order known for its inclusion, according to Dr. Anchen Schulz, who has studied Jesuit missionaries in Latin America.

"In many respects," Schulz said, "You see a Catholicism that has embraced many of the local practices as well."

Schulz agreed this pope could build bridges among the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

"The Jesuits were instrumental in learning new languages and helping bring new aspects of cultural life to different areas of the world," she said.

With the pope coming from a nation worn by poverty, Lander hopes he will foster a new austerity.

"To give up some of that profit in favor of the so many millions and billions of people who hunger in the world and are suffering," Lander said.

Although Jesuits are often seen as a liberal order among Catholics, Cardinal Bergoglio has a staunch conservative history, including opposing the ordination of women, adoption by gay parents and the left-leaning philosophy of "liberation theology," first practiced by Jesuit missionaries in Latin America.