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Catholics, world leaders react to Pope Francis
Thursday, March 14, 2013 by MARK CIEMCIOCH

Pope Francis addresses the crowd at St. Peter's Square.

One day after Pope Francis - formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina - was elected to the highest seat in the Catholic Church, world and religious leaders offered their thoughts and congratulations to the 266th pontiff, who will be installed Tuesday, March 19.  Pope Francis is the first Latin American and Jesuit pope in history.

“It is with profound gratitude to God that I welcome the election of Pope Francis.

This is a moment of tremendous grace, demonstrating our most important Catholic conviction, that he is a man selected through the intercession of the Holy Spirit to shepherd the Church for years to come. As the first Holy Father from the Americas, I was impressed with Pope Francis’ humility and spontaneity as he began his first blessing to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, by asking everyone to pause in silent prayer, to pray for him and bless him. That was a powerful moment.

I ask the faithful of the Diocese of Buffalo to join me united in prayer as the papacy of Francis begins. May God bless and guide this humble servant as he leads the Universal Catholic Church.”


- Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Diocese of Buffalo

“I was surprised and impressed that the college of cardinals would entrust the papacy to a man formed by the Society of Jesus. As Jesuits we are not intended to accept ecclesial positions as bishops or cardinals. The exceptions for this are few and far between. For one now to be elevated to pope is unprecedented and a radical move. And a grace-filled one, I pray, for our Church and world. 

Francis leads with his simplicity and humility. These are rooted in his experiences of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and his life in service to our Church and all the people he has served for decades. I expect Francis will call us all to care for the poor and needy in our midst, to live the social gospel rooted in the life of Jesus. I hope he will engage us all in conversations that will help us all, individually and as societies in our Church and world, to live more gracefully in the Body of Christ and our human communities.”

- Father Michael Tunney, SJ, director of Mission & Identity at Canisius College in Buffalo

“I think it’s a great selection to have the first non-European pope come from South America, where there is a vibrant Catholic population. He’ll bring a new and fresh world view to the papacy.”

- Father Francis DiSpigno, OFM, executive director of University Ministries at St. Bonaventure University in Olean

“The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has taken the name Francis, marks a great milestone in our church. As successor to Peter, our first pope, Pope Francis I stands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside.

The bishops of the United States and the people of our 195 dioceses offer prayers for our new leader and promise allegiance to him. Intense prayer from all around the world surrounded the election of Pope Francis.

The bishops of the United States thank God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspired choice of the College of Cardinals.With joy in our hearts, we declare 'Ad Multos Annos!' (For many years!)”


- Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“In the name of the Society of Jesus, I give thanks to God for the election of our new Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, which opens for the Church a path full of hope.

All of us Jesuits accompany with our prayers our brother and we thank him for his generosity in accepting the responsibility of guiding the Church at this crucial time. The name of 'Francis' by which we shall now know him evokes for us the Holy Father's evangelical spirit of closeness to the poor, his identification with simple people, and his commitment to the renewal of the Church. From the very first moment in which he appeared before the people of God, he gave visible witness to his simplicity, his humility, his pastoral experience and his spiritual depth.

"The distinguishing mark of our Society is that it is . . . a companionship . . . bound to the Roman Pontiff by a special bond of love and service." (Complementary Norms, No. 2, § 2) Thus, we share the joy of the whole Church, and at the same time, wish to express our renewed availability to be sent into the vineyard of the Lord, according to the spirit of our special vow of obedience, that so distinctively unites us with the Holy Father (General Congregation 35, Decree 1, No. 17).”


- Father Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus

“We join our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe in saluting Pope Francis. At this historic moment for the Church, we offer prayers for strength, wisdom, and courage for our new Pope as he assumes this great and sacred responsibility. In these complex and challenging times, there is an opportunity for renewal and reflection. The election of a pope from Latin America is an historic precedent and an expression of optimism and courage on the part of the Conclave. As Pope Francis I is a member of the Society of Jesus, this is a time for great humility and gratitude for our Society. With God’s guidance, may he lead the Church to greater unity and faithfulness to her Lord and become an inspirational leader, not only for his flock, but indeed, for the world.”

- Father Jeffrey von Arx, SJ, president of the Jesuit Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn.

“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. 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.”

- President Barack Obama of the United States

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Pope Francis elected as first Latin American pontiff

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