Politicians hail Pope Francis
By Clint Chan Tack Thursday, March 14 2013
Government and the Opposition yesterday welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. Bergoglio has chosen the new name of Pope Francis.
In a statement, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she will send an official congratulatory letter to the new Pope today.
In extending her congratulations to the Roman Catholic community on the election of a new Pope by the College of Cardinals, Persad-Bissessar said this announcement came two days after the conclave convened, comprising 115 Cardinals from around the world, following the resignation of Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus.
Persad-Bissessar said she closely the developments since the conclave began on Monday and is “immensely pleased that the International Roman Catholic Community finally has a Pontiff to lead his flock through the difficult terrain of modern day spiritual life.”
The statement concluded that, Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, was ordained Cardinal by the late Blessed Pope John Paul II and is the 266th Pope in the Catholic Church.
Speaking with Newsday at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre while the House of Representatives was in session, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said, “I am pleased to see that the process was done swiftly and Cardinals have come to a conclusion. What I understood is that the issue of good governance became a large issue in the deliberations. I thought it was very relevant that good governance would become an issue not only for countries like ours but also an issue within the governance of the Church,” he added.
Labour Minister Errol McLeod paused his contribution in the debate in the House on the Defence Amendment Bill 2013 to congratulate the local and international Roman Catholic community on the election of Pope Francis.
McLeod said it was significant that Bergoglio is the first person in the last 1,000 years from outside of Europe to be elected Pope and that he is from the Americas.
Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed also noted the election of a non-European.
“This is a great and significant day for people of South America and Argentina. It is an awesome honour for the Roman Catholics of Argentina. God’s guidance and peace be with him,” Mohammed said.
St Joseph MP Herbert Volney, a Catholic, said, “We rejoice we have a Pope.”
Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert said the election shows “that the Cardinals were willing to think outside of the box and to elect a non-European.”
He added, “I look forward to a new dispensation under the new Head of the Church.”
Opposition Chief Whip Marlene McDonald said, as a Catholic, she welcomed her “new spiritual leader.”
“I wish him well as the leader of the Catholic Church as he is assuming duties in very trying times. I wish him well and long life. May God guide and protect him,” she said.