WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, has returned from Rome, where he took part in electing the Catholic church’s new pope.

Wuerl stepped off a plane at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, completing a trip to Italy in which he participated in his first papal conclave. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was chosen on the fifth ballot and became Pope Francis.

Wuerl, who became a cardinal in 2010, said Pope Francis, the first pontiff from the Western Hemisphere, made a point to mention his appreciation of the American people.

“He said to me, before I could say anything, ‘Ah, Washington,'” Wuerl said of speaking with Pope Francis.

PHOTOS: Papal Conclave Elects Pope Francis

Wuerl said he doesn’t expect an overhaul of church doctrine from the from the first Jesuit pope, but said “there are going to be changes” to the Vatican’s handling of administrative and sex abuse scandals.

Washington’s archbishop said he’s not only pleased he’s back in time for Holy Week, but he also had nine hours to write homilies on the return flight.

Of the 115 cardinals who elected the new pope, 11 were Americans, second in number only to the Italians.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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