Washington D.C., Mar 15, 2013 / 05:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- International leaders greeted the election of Pope Francis with joy, noting his commitment to defending Catholic values and caring for the poor.
“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,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is from South Korea.
Moon explained that he looks “forward to continuing cooperation between the United Nations and the Holy See.” He also expressed a desire to pursue common goals, “from the promotion of peace, social justice and human rights, to the eradication of poverty and hunger,” with the new Pope.
The Secretary General also affirmed “that His Holiness will continue to build on the legacy of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in the promotion of inter-faith dialogue, which is at the heart of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative.”
Pope Francis was elected as head of the Catholic Church and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on March 13 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope also serves as the leader of the Vatican State, which has permanent observer status at the United Nations.
Other International leaders also offered their congratulations and words of welcome to the new Pope.
The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, wished Pope Francis “courage and strength.”
“The Pope offers guidance, inspiration and hope to hundreds of millions of believers across the world,” Shulz said. “The choice of a Pope from outside Europe is an encouraging sign.”
He added that a “new impetus is necessary to revive the fundamental values which are at the basis of Christianity,” because these values “are needed more than ever in a world which risks being engulfed in a spiral of materialism and inequality.”
Cristina Kirchner, president of the Pope’s home country of Argentina, said in a statement that the nation wishes Pope Francis “a fruitful pastoral mission, with such tremendous responsibility on his shoulders, seeking justice, equality, brotherhood and peace among mankind.”
Archbishop Diego Padron, president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, predicted “extraordinary change” under the new Pope, while observing, “All of Latin America is dropping to its knees to pray, to thank God for this extraordinary gift that he has given us.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres called the new Pope a man who “can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area,” adding that he is an inspiration “for all of us not just for the Catholic community.”
Peres said that Pope Francis “represents the devotion, the love of God, the love of peace, the holy modesty and he represents a new continent which is now awakening.”
He added that the Pope is a “welcome guest,” in Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also “extended an invitation to his holiness to visit the Holy Land” through his spokesman. Abbas added that he was “determined to continue exerting every possible effort in order to foster relations between Palestine and the city of Vatican.”
Chinese officials offered a welcome to the new Pontiff as well, though it was accompanied by strict demands for the Holy See.
“We hope that under the leadership of the new Pope the Vatican will adopt a practical and flexible attitude and create conditions for the improvement of relations between China and the Vatican,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
The Vatican and China have come into conflict in past years over China’s insistence that bishop appointments and other Church decisions must be approved by the state.
Hua said that “the new Pope must cut the so-called diplomatic relations with Taiwan, recognizing the Chinese government as the sole legal representative of the whole of China and should not interfere, using the excuse of religion, in the internal affairs of the country.”