The white smoke poured out from the Sistine Chapel chimney around 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, signaling that the conclave had chosen Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new head of the Catholic Church.
Bergoglio, the first ever pope from South America and the first from outside Europe in the modern era, chose the name Pope Francis.
Bishop Luis R. Zarama of the Archdiocese of Atlanta held a press conference at 3:30 p.m. today in Smyrna to comment on the new pope.
"I was so excited," Bishop Zarama said. "I had tears in my eyes the moment when the new pope was chosen. It was a very emotional and powerful moment for all of us."
The naming of a new pope also excited North Cobb residents.
"He is the first Jesuit to be elected pope," said Jameson Curnick, campus ministry assistant at the Catholic Center at Kennesaw State University. "He's been around. He's participated in the conclaves of John Paul II and Benedict and he even then was considered possibly to be elected. He is more traditional with a lot of emphasis on helping the poor.
"Recently he went to the hospital and was known for washing the feet, kissing the feet of those who had been infected with the AIDS virus. He's a very humble man. We definitely think it's a fantastic choice and we're definitely excited to see what happens to the church during his papacy."
According to Catholic tradition, the newly appointed Bishop of Rome is the 266th successor of St. Peter and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church consisting of 1.2 billion Catholics.
The Catholic Church's 115 cardinal electors voted in this papal election, and the newly appointed pontiff received at least 77 votes. The white smoke appeared after five rounds of voting.
Pope Francis, 76, is the former archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and succeeds Pope Benedict XVI. The new pope asked the crowd at St. Peter's Square to pray for him.
"I think Latino people have a warm way of approaching others. It would be an interesting transition between a German pope and a Latino pope," Bishop Zarama said. "I think this pope, coming from Latin America, would give a great opportunity to people to feel close to him."
Benedict, who did not participate in the election, cited health reasons in becoming the first pope to step down in some 600 years.