President Obama's Statement on Pope Francis

President Barack Obama made the following statement upon the election of Pope Francis:"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. 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 two thousand years -- that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, 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."

On the other hand several world leaders had other statements of congratulations for Pope Francis:

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner rather formally wished him a fruitful pastoral mission, with such tremendous responsibility on his shoulders. 

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "A momentous day for the 1.2bn Catholics around the world as His Holiness Pope Francis I is appointed the 266th Bishop of Rome."

Chancellor Merkel said in her message of congratulation to Pope Francis: "I am especially pleased for Latin America’s Christians, who for the first time see one of their own take up the leadership of the Catholic Church.

Italian President Napolitano and the whole nation were deeply moved by Pope Francis I’s first address and was struck by the simplicity of his message, pronounced in Italian, his family’s native language.

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff congratulated “Pope Francis I, the Catholic Church and the Argentine people, on behalf of Brazil.” Brazil has the largest Catholic population in the world and is eagerly awaiting the Pope’s arrival for the World Youth Day this coming July.

Al Azhar, the most prestigious centre of Sunni Islamic learning in Cairo, welcomed the election of Francis I with hope. The hope is that the big freeze in Holy See-Muslim relations - triggered by some statements Benedict XVI made on the protection of Christian minorities in the Middle East, two years ago – will be overcome.

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