Local Catholic Diocese leader ‘very pleased’ with selection of new Pope
Leader of the local Catholic Church, Most Reverend Bishop John Quinn Weitzel, says the Diocese of Samoa - Pago Pago is “very pleased” with the new Holy Father, Pope Francis.
"We pray for our new Holy Father and ask God to bless his service as the 267th Successor of St. Peter," Bishop Quinn wrote via email to the Samoa News yesterday.
It was an historic day for Roman Catholics across the globe on Wednesday, when a trail of white smoke came out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signaling the official selection of the new pope. The announcement was made in the presence of thousands of rain-soaked Catholics who were there to personally witness the event, as well as people from all over the world who tuned in to watch history being made on their television sets.
Those who elected 76-year-old Pope Francis were the 115 cardinals from different parts of the world who took two days to make their decision. The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is from Argentina and the first South American to lead the church.
He is also the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to hold the most powerful position in a religion that has over one billion members worldwide.
(The new pope chose the name Francis, who is known as a humble man born to Italian immigrant parents who spoke out for the poor and led an austere life in Buenos Aires).
Prior to Wednesday’s selection, Pope Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. According to news reports, the cardinals who selected Pope Francis have sent a powerful message that the future of the church is in the global south, which is home to the majority of the world’s Catholics.
“Our former Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI was a wonderful holy servant of the Church and he fully endorses Pope Francis,” Bishop Quinn wrote. “Pope Francis asked all of us to pray for him and that, we will do.”
Bishop Quinn concluded, “Pope Francis is well known for his simplicity and for being a pastor among his people in Argentina. He used to take a bus to work, cook his own food, and was a great defender of the poor. He is a Pope who wants to serve others as a true servant.”
In his first blessing, Pope Francis said: "I bless all men and women of good will." In his many years with the clergy, Francis has opposed liberation theology, abortion, gay marriage and the ordination of women. As archbishop of Buenos Aires beginning in 1998 and a cardinal since 2001, he often bumped heads with Argentina’s government over social issues. For example, in 2010, he criticized a government-supported law to legalize marriage and adoption by same-sex couples as “a war against God.”
The new pope takes the helm at a time when the church is facing an array of challenges that intensified during the tenure of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. These include a shortage of priests, growing competition from evangelical churches in the Southern Hemisphere, a sexual abuse crisis in English speaking countries particularly in the West, and difficulties governing the Vatican itself.
Pope Benedict XVI’s eight-year papacy ended last month when he announced that he was no longer up to the rigors of the job, making him the first pontiff in 598 years to resign.
US President Barack Obama was among the first world leaders to congratulate Pope Francis on his selection. “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 2,000 years — that in each other we see the face of God,” Obama said in a message released by the White House.
The President added, “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.”
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