WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Barack Obama, his vice president and secretary of state offered newly elected Pope Francis their warm wishes.
In a statement from Obama on behalf of himself and his wife, Michelle, he observed that “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.”
The March 13 statement also made note of the status of the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the first pope from the Americas, observing that “his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world.”
“Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI,” the president continued, “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.”
Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, who are both Catholic, also issued statements congratulating the pontiff and offering their prayers for his success.
“I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his inaugural Mass,” said Biden’s statement. “The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths. I look forward to our work together in the coming years on many important issues.”
Biden added that “on this momentous day, the United States renews our commitment to working closely with the Holy See to advance our shared belief in peace and humanity. We offer the Holy Father our warmest wishes of success in advancing peace, freedom, and human dignity throughout the world.”
Kerry said that for himself and his wife, Teresa, their “Catholic faith is a source of strength and comfort every day, from Sunday to Sunday, in moments of difficulty and moments of joy, and an inspiration to act on issues of social justice and global responsibility. Teresa and I will keep the Holy Father in our prayers as he begins a new era for our church.”
— By Patricia Zapor, Catholic News Service