PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III, along with the Filipino people, joined all the Catholic faithful in welcoming the new pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, and prayed that the holy pontiff will serve as a voice for peace, justice, and charity in a world threatened by tension and armed conflict, poverty, uncertainty, and loss of confidence in institutions.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement on Thursday following the election of Bergoglio as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The new pope has taken the name Francis and is the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years.
"The President, along with the Filipino people, joins all the Catholic faithful as they receive their new leader and meet his proclamation with a sense of boundless promise,"
"As the first pope from outside Europe in a millennium—the first pope from the Society of Jesus, and the first from Latin America—the election of Pope Francis brings with it the promise of renewal in the Catholic Church, as it strives to fulfill its mission here on earth," Lacierda said.
The 76-year-old Pope Francis appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica just over an hour after white smoke poured from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel to signal that 115 cardinal electors had chosen him to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
"We hope and pray that this will inaugurate a pontificate that will bear witness not only to the basic tenets of the Gospel, but will also serve as a voice for peace, justice, and charity in a world threatened by tension and armed conflict, poverty, uncertainty, and loss of confidence in institutions," Lacierda noted.
"This is not merely a time for all Catholics to come together. This is a call for unity across nations—across ethnicities—to work with the new Catholic leadership towards shaping a world in which each and every human being is allowed to live a life of peace, joy, and dignity. Our administration is eager to work with the new Catholic leadership to achieve that end," he stressed.
In congratulating Pope Francis, Lacierda said: "May God continue to grant you strength and wisdom as you lead the Catholic Church into its next chapter." (PCOO)