Wednesday, March 13, 2013

President Obama's Statement On The Election Of His Holiness Pope Francis I

President praises new pontiff, offers prayers on behalf of American people...
President Obama on Wednesday issued a statement on behalf of the American people welcoming Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as His Holiness Pope Francis I, shortly after the Catholic cardinals gathered in Vatican City announced his election as the new pontiff.  The President hailed the 76-year-old Jesuit as "a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us," and said he looks forward to working with the Catholic Church's new leader.  (Above, Pope Francis greets the crowd in Vatican City)

The President also offered prayers "for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world."

"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy," President Obama said.

"As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God.  As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.

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.  We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world."

On Wednesday after just two days of deliberations, the Catholic Cardinals selected the 266th pontiff on the fourth or fifth vote. Pope Francis is the first pontiff from the Americas and the first non-European pontiff of the modern era.  White smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City at 7:07 PM.

The new pontiff was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires.  He was previously Cardinal-Priest of S. Roberto Bellarmino, and Bishop of the Ordinariate for the Faithful of the Eastern Rites in Argentina.

*Photo via The Guardian UK