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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, yesterday was named the 266th bishop of Rome and the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He took the name Pope Francis. He is the first pope from the Americas, and the first non-European pope in centuries. Catholic American associations were swift to react.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington. "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 stands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside."
Dolan was among a few cardinals from North America who some speculated was considered a candidate for pope.
Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, Va.: “We look forward to continuing our mission of service and living out the call of the gospel with Pope Francis I as our spiritual leader….A native of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis I is well known for his compassion for all of God’s people, especially the poorest among us….Pope Francis took his name after St. Francis, who devoted his life to service and supporting the poor and needy, and is the patron saint of the environment."
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, Washington: “We welcome Pope Francis and look forward to hearing about his priorities in the coming days….We call on Pope Francis to recognize that he is now the head of a very diverse church, one that includes Catholics who use contraception, who have or provide abortions, who seek fertility treatments, who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage or with people of the same sex, as well as people who are living with HIV and AIDS. These Catholics are absolute traditionalists in that they live according to their consciences and by virtue of their faith every day. A leader of our church who affirms rather than denies the lived wisdom of the faithful would be well within the Catholic tradition as well.”
Welcoming messages also came from the bishops of Washington and Arlington, Va., the area of the country known as the capital of associations.
Paul S. Loverde, bishop of Arlington: “This is a very exciting and hope-filled time for Catholics the world over, and most assuredly for our brothers and sisters in Latin America who cannot but take great delight in the election of a native son from Argentina.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington: "Pope Francis is endowed with so many gifts that enhance his mission now as the chief shepherd of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. We thank God for the many intellectual talents and spiritual qualities, pastoral experience and effective ministry of the new pope."