Today’s News: Catholics welcome new pope; Mahony on the defensive; Courts crunch

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Pope Francis. Southern California Catholics are celebrating the selection of the new Pope. Former Archbishop of Argentina Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, is the first pontiff to hail from Latin America, and the first who is primarily a Spanish speaker. The ascension of Francis comes at a difficult time for the L.A. Archdiocese, which continues to be dogged by sexual abuse scandals. L.A. Archbishop Jose Gomez says the selection of Francis should give all Catholics hope. L.A. Times

Mahony speaks. Cardinal Roger Mahony, former head of the L.A. Archdiocese, calls the selection of Bergoglio “historical” and “extraordinary.” Mahony’s participation in the Papal conclave was controversial because of recent revelations that he shielded priests accused of molestation from prosecution. But Mahony is one again defending himself. He says criticism of his handling of abuse cases is based on “ignorance of the facts.” KCBS

Fracking future. Governor Jerry Brown says California should consider using fracking technology to help the state tap its massive oil shale reserves. Brown acknowledged that questions remain about the controversial method of extracting oil and natural gas. But he says the state’s fossil fuel deposits have huge potential. Brown says his administration will handle safety and regulatory questions as they come up. A USC study, meanwhile, says development of shale deposits in Central California using fracking and other methods could give the state’s economy a huge boost. Capital Public Radio, Bloomberg

Court cuts. Legal aid groups are suing the L.A. County court system and the state of California over plans to slash the number of courtrooms hearing eviction cases. The groups contend the poor and disabled will be harmed if the number of courts hearing eviction cases drops from 26 to five. The budget-cutting plan is scheduled to take effect Monday. Which Way, L.A.?, L.A. Times

Laker down. An unfortunate twist of fate for the Lakers. The team’s drive to reach the NBA playoffs suffered a setback last night in Atlanta when Kobe Bryant twisted his ankle attempting to hit a game-tying shot with the clock running out. Bryant missed. The Lakers lost. And the team says Bryant will be out indefinitely with a badly sprained left ankle. ESPN