The election of Pope Francis is a milestone for Hispanic Catholics.
39% of the Catholic population is in Latin America and the Caribbean, compared to 24% in Europe.
The local Hispanic community is emotional over the Pope selection.
The CEO of the Central California chamber of commerce was reduced to tears at the news.
John Hernandez believes Pope Francis will not only rebuild the Catholic Church, but help the poor of the valley.
“It meant something to me because I feel the church has had its share of problems lately....and I’m a man of faith...and it hurts,” he said.
Fresno's Bishop Ochoa praises the pope's Spanish speaking skills.
A way to bring back Catholics to the church…
"This is an opportunity...what a wonderful way to invite them to come on home,” the Bishop said.
Theologians say Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name Pope Francis because he seeks to be the People's Pope... a Pope who cares about the poor.
“Especially here when you're talking about the the farm workers here of the valley,” said Catholic Faithful Stephen Rico.
Hernandez is offering a heartfelt blessing… just as the new pope requested.
“Most cases popes go out and bless the crowd but he said… no no….let me go ahead and get your blessing first,” said Hernandez.