Obama, other world leaders hail election of Francis

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In this image made from video provided by CTV, Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, Thursday, March 14, 2013. AP PHOTO/CTV

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—US President Barack Obama and Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner led world leaders in hailing the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina as the first Latin American Pope, urging him to work for religious reconciliation and peace.

“As the first Pope from the Americas, his selection… speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world,” Obama said in a statement, hailing Pope Francis as a “champion of the poor.”

“Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith,” he said.

US Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic who will lead the US delegation to the new Pope’s inauguration Mass on Tuesday, said he would extend his prayers as the Pontiff “takes on this holy responsibility.”

“I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome,” Biden said.

Tremendous responsibility

Kirchner, who is Catholic but does not have a warm personal relationship with the new Pontiff, wished the 76-year-old Jesuit a “fruitful pastoral mission.”

She noted that the new Pope had “tremendous responsibility on his shoulders, seeking justice, equality, brotherhood and peace among mankind.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the “hopes of millions of believers in Germany and the world” now rested with the new Pope while European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso urged the Pontiff to try to bring the “world’s people and religions closer together.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations and the Roman Catholic Church shared the “common goals” of promoting peace, social justice and human rights, and the eradication of poverty and hunger.

“We also share the conviction that we can only resolve the interconnected challenges of today’s world through dialogue,” Ban said.

French President Francois Hollande said Paris looked forward to pursuing a “confident dialogue” with the Holy See.

In Latin America, the leaders of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico joined the clergy in hailing Bergoglio, who was elected after five rounds of voting in the Vatican—one more than when predecessor Benedict XVI was chosen in 2005.

“The faithful eagerly await the arrival of Pope Francis to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day in July,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said, citing her nation as having “the greatest number of Catholics in the world.”

Cardinal Odilo Scherer, the archbishop of Sao Paulo, had been considered a contender for the papacy.

“We wanted a Brazilian Pope but the Argentines are our brothers, our neighbors. It’s all good,” said Rosivaldo dos Santos, 38, at Metropolitan Cathedral in Sao Paulo.

Extremely happy

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa exulted “Long live Francis!” on his Twitter account—one of millions of tweets sent about the historic election that ended with white smoke billowing out of a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel.

“We are extremely happy because our Lord has cast his eyes on Latin America and we are extremely grateful to God for that because we have a Latin American Pope,” said Archbishop of San Salvador Jose Luis Escobar.

In Africa, where the number of Catholics is steadily growing, the president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference said that, while some had hoped for a younger Pontiff, all expect “great things” from Pope Francis.

“The symbolism of choosing a Pope from Latin America delights and touches us, most particularly in developing countries,” said Archbishop Stephen Breslin.

Fr. John Dingi, of St. Matthew’s Catholic Cathedral in downtown Khartoum, where Christians are a tiny minority in Islamist-run Sudan, also expressed his joy.

“We are very happy,” Dingi said. “It’s good because, you see, Christianity is now growing very fast in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia.”

Justin Welby, the new archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the world’s Anglicans, wished “every blessing” to the new Pope and said he looked forward to meeting him.

Troubling track record

The new Pope, however, will face renewed pressure to better handle sex abuse scandals involving pedophile priests, and avoid cover-ups by senior clergymen.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests warned that Jesuits had a “troubled track record on children’s safety” and urged Pope Francis to seize an “enormous opportunity and duty to help prevent heinous assaults against kids.”

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  • superpilipinas

    As usual, hitch-hiking politicians are alive again.

    Obama is a Pro-Abortion, pro-Same-Sex-Marriage, pro-Divorce president.

    He has very few principles that are common with the Pope.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      why are you worried about america did you vote  and  do you pay taxes. if it wasnt for divorce i wouldnt have the wife i have now instead of living alone the rest of my life or committing adultry which is a worse but i dont see the church concerned about that since it is a common practice. here. anti divorce is stupid when to people who hate each other but are forced to live together.if you dont want a divorce dont get one who is forcing

      • superpilipinas

        he-he-he. whether i worry or not, vote or not, pay taxes or not has nothing to do with my comment. he-he-he. 

        divorce is the effect of unfortunate events due to either wrong choice, due to very weak commitment, or wrong purpose of marriage. he-he-he. all negative things.

        yes. as you put it, divorce is the “lesser bad”…..but still “bad”.

        why settle for bad when you can have something good.

        that is why even liberals admire solid marriages of couples. the kids are also spared of the very unhappy effects of divorce.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        what do you know about divorce my wife left me with the kids do you think that was a unhappy effects. and the kids who see their father drunk and use their mother for a punching is that a unhappy event  here when the woman is wore out with having 10 kids the husband leaves them for a younger woman and the mother is stuck raising the kids by herself. i have 2 nieghbors in that boat and my wife hs relatives the same way the man has the best of both worlds.  i talked to a guy last week who ws bragging he had three wives and 15 children he was with the coast guard., there is no such thing has a perfect world

  • Fulpol

    when politicians and world leaders talked about the new Pope, I sensed a conspiracy in the making…

  • Fulpol

    if Joe Biden is Catholic.. 

    how about Obama?

    … a voodooist?

    • billy gunner

       obama sounds like a muslim anyone?

      • Crazy_horse101010

        and so what you hate muslims

      • billy gunner

         nope not a muslim hater. obama just almost sounds like another household name who blew the twin towers. (no pun intended)

      • Crazy_horse101010

        ok peace i think its kenyan

    • Crazy_horse101010

      what are you to care or know. is it any concern of you are you a idol worshipper  stupid remark

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