Reactions to the election of Pope Francis I

Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches

(World Council of Churches)

"The election of a new pope, Francis I, is a turning point in the life of the Roman Catholic Church, but it also has an impact on people of other churches and faiths. Together with this humble pilgrim of justice and peace, who has lived a simple lifestyle and reflects a passion for social justice and lifting up the poor, we reaffirm our commitment to seeking justice and peace.

"We look forward to our continued engagement with the Catholic Church and their presence at our upcoming Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea in October and November where justice and peace is the focus.

"Ever since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches have enjoyed constructive dialogue and cooperation on matters of faith, witness and the fundamental unity of the whole body of Christ. We have learned that we are pilgrims together in the one ecumenical movement, and we are particularly grateful for the way the Catholic Church works with us on the highly significant issues of unity, ecclesiology, mission and inter-religious dialogue.

"Now, in close collaboration with Pope Francis, we look forward to building on this positive relationship with the Catholic Church that has been nurtured so carefully in the past. An important aspect of the ecumenical movement is a concept of mutual accountability. We in the World Council of Churches offer our cooperation to Pope Francis and the whole of the Catholic Church in this spirit. We will continue to cooperate in a loving and affirming relationship. In this way, we will grow together in grace and in hope toward that true unity of believers for which Christ prayed.

"We are delighted to greet a pope from Argentina, the first pope from the Global South. Today the vast majority of Christians live in the Global South. The growth of Christianity in the South is likely to continue. This shift has already had an important impact on world Christianity. It is in this context that we will move forward, working together, building our relationship and addressing the important needs of all people today. Let us use this opportunity to pray for and with Pope Francis to reconfirm that we need one another, to address the challenges of the world in our time."

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby,

"We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world.

(Photo: Osservatore Romano)Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentine on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after his election by the cardinals' conclave on March 13, 2013.

"His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere, not least among Anglicans. We have long since recognised - and often reaffirmed - that our churches hold a special place for one another. I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors. May the love of Christ unite us, and intensify our service in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism that can be a blessing for the Body of Christ throughout the world.

"Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows. His choice of the name Francis suggests that he wants to call us all back to the transformation that St Francis knew and brought to the whole of Europe, fired by contemplation and closeness to God.

"As I begin tomorrow a prayer pilgrimage toward my own inauguration as Archbishop in Canterbury next Thursday, Pope Francis will be much in my own prayers, as he will be throughout the coming months and years."

Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Munib Younan and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge in a letter to the new pontiff

"We are delighted to greet the first pope from Argentina, at the same time also the first pope from the Global South. It is with anticipation that we look forward to see the experiences and insights of your rich pastoral and episcopal ministry in the context of Argentina being expressed in this new ministry into which you have been called. The challenging contexts of military dictatorship, of economic collapse due to external debt, of social violence and ecological devastation have shaped your life and ministry as much as the joyful hope and deep faith of God's people journeying and witnessing together to God's love to humanity in the midst of these realities.

"You have been elected to serve the Church at a time when Lutherans and Catholics are growing in mutual understanding and joint witness not only at local, but also at a global level.This has become possible through patient theological work and through the lasting commitment to sincere dialogue between our two Christian traditions. But also those praying together and faithfully working together for the sake of the neighbor in contexts of injustice and violence have contributed to this growing understanding and joint witness.

"We look back with gratefulness to the important achievement of the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), signed in the year 1999 between the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation. Our member churches in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay remember with joy your active participation at the joint celebration of the JDDJ organized in the Redeemer church of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Buenos Aires in that year.

"You take on your ministry at a time when the 50th anniversary of dialogue in the Lutheran-Catholic Joint Commission on Unity is approaching. The Joint Commission has only recently finalized the report From Conflict to Communion, which constitutes a significant milestone of our joint preparation for the 500th anniversary of Lutheran Reformation.

"For the first time, Lutherans and Catholics have endeavored together to write the history of Reformation. It is our prayer that this document will be meaningful to many in the world so strongly longing for peace, justice and reconciliation.

"The Lutheran World Federation values the commitment of the Roman Catholic Church to ecumenical dialogue and cooperation, as expressed by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It is our prayer that we will continue to grow in joint witness and that what has been achieved through dialogues, will be implemented in the everyday life of our local Christian communities."

World Communion of Reformed Churches, Geral Secretary Setri Nyomi letter to Pope 

"We received the news of your election this evening with joy. As we congratulate you, we also assure you of our continued prayers as you begin this major responsibility of your ministry in the Lord's vineyard. Your election as the first Latin American Pope signals for us an acknowledgement that the recognition of the Worldwide impact of the Catholic Church. We are touched by your humility. The name you have chosen is a sign for us that attention to the plight of the poor and justice for all people will be important for you.

"Our world today is in critical need of credible leadership which will challenge the forces of death as seen in injustice in the global economy, human disregard for the environment, militarism and violence, particularly against women and children – unfortunately sometimes perpetrated even in the church. We hope as the Pope you will model leadership that will contribute to transformation of the world.

"During the past 42 years, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Roman Catholic Church have engaged in a series of bilateral theological conversations on the presence of Christ in the Church and the world, our common understanding of the Church, the Church as a community of common witness to the Kingdom of God, and Justification and Sacramentality. It is our hope that in the coming years, the Roman Catholic Church, under your leadership, and the Reformed churches will harvest the spiritual fruits of this dialogue dedicated also to the healing of memories.

"We would like to experience the Roman Catholic Church increase its ecumenical engagement. We would like to see your Papal tenure as an era of commitment to furthering how our churches live out the gift of Christian unity that we have received from the Lord."

Ban Ki-moon, General-Secretary of the United Nations

"I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who has taken the name Pope Francis on his assumption of the papacy, and to all Catholics across the world on this momentous occasion. I look forward to continuing cooperation between the United Nations and the Holy See, under the wise leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis.

"We share many common goals – from the promotion of peace, social justice and human rights, to the eradication of poverty and hunger – all core elements of sustainable development. We also share the conviction that we can only resolve the interconnected challenges of today's world through dialogue.

Barack Obama, U.S. President

"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."

Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain

"On this historic occasion in which the Church makes itself more universal than ever, I declare my government's readiness to continue and, if possible, strengthen the special relationship between the Holy See and Spain, on the basis of the profound values that we share: life, human dignity, freedom, peace and justice."

Rev. Nilton Giese, General Secretary of Latin America Council of Churches (CLAI).

"We congratulate Francis I, the first Latin American to be elected pope. We are aware of Bergoglio's work in the Diocese of Buenos Aires and we recognize him as a person of particular sensitivity to social problems and for ecumenical dialogue."

Carlos Alfredo Duarte Voelker, President of Evangelical Church of the River Plate (Argentine)

"The Evangelical Church of the River Plate (Argentina) congratulates the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church by the recent election of a new pope who, for the first time in history, is from Latin America. We are also confident that his years of experience in the pastorate will help him to promote a new vision to those who suffer persecution and marginalization of any kind."

Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny

"On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I offer warm congratulations to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on his election as Pope Francis. He has the best wishes of all Irish people, of all traditions, as he undertakes the immense responsibility of his pontificate.

"We pray that he will have the strength, the good health and the spiritual guidance needed to lead the Catholic Church in the many challenges it faces.

"The people of Ireland also send our congratulations to the people of Argentina, a country with which Ireland shares many historic bonds, on this occasion of great honour and pride for their nation."

Donal McKeown Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor in Northern Ireland to BBC

"That fact that we have somebody from a developing country, the fact that we have someone who is not in any way connected with the real centre of power, that fact that we have someone who has a clear reputation in his own country for leadership, for spirituality, is a sign that we're not looking for a power maker or a power broker. We're looking for someone who will have the strength of his faith to lead and inspire a new generation to follow Christ.

"We've had politicians who let us down, the banks let us down, the media let us down, the Church let us down and I think it's wonderful to have someone who says 'I want to give a simple message of hope'"

The Dalai Lama of Tibet in a letter to Pope Francis I

"May I offer you my greetings and sense of joy on your historic election as the Pope.

"Although I am not very familiar with many Catholic saints, I do know about St, Francis, having visited Assisi and attended inter-religious gatherings there. His discipline, the simplicity of his way of life and his love for all creatures are qualities that I find deeply inspiring. I am moved to know that his is the name you have chosen for your papacy.

"I am very pleased to have met and enjoyed friendly conversations with your immediate predecessors and, for the last forty years or so, have participated in fruitful exchanges with my Christian brothers and sisters. I hope that I may have the honour of calling on you too sometime in the near future."

Rev. Romi Márcia Bencke, General Secretary National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC)

"The path of the Catholics in our continent was marked by the rich experience of liberation theology. Particularly in Brazil we experience a rich ecumenical coexistence with the Roman Catholic Church, which is one of the co-founders of CONIC. Hopefully the new pope will continue to strengthen our ecumenical journey."

 Bishop Frank de Nully Brown of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina.

"The choice of Bergoglio confirms the direction that the Roman Catholic Church had already taken in the times of Benedict XVI."

National Council of Churches USA President Kathryn M. Lohre

She said the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, as the first non-European pontiff in more than 1,000 years, suggests winds of change in the Catholic Church.

"All of us have seen profound growth among Christians of every tradition in Latin America and throughout the southern hemisphere. We pray all of us will be attentive and responsive to the Christian witness that is emanating from that part of the world, and we wish Pope Francis the very best as he begins his new ministry.

"I know my sisters and brothers in thousands of congregations related to our 37 member communions are joining me in praying for Pope Francis and the 1.2 billion Catholic Christians he leads.

"All of us have seen profound growth among Christians of every tradition in Latin America and throughout the southern hemisphere. We pray all of us will be attentive and responsive to the Christian witness that is emanating from that part of the world, and we wish Pope Francis the very best as he begins his new ministry."

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