DENVER — American Archbishops Samuel Aquila of Denver and Charles Chaput of Philadelphia voiced gratitude to Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, for accepting election as Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ today.
“Today is a day of great joy for the entire Church. Pope Francis has been called to the ministry of St. Peter: to be the ‘visible source and foundation’ of unity in the Church,” Archbishop Aquila told Catholic News Agency shortly after the announcement.
“As we rejoice, Pope Francis begins what will be the most difficult period of his life. Join me in giving thanks and praise to the Father for the gift of Pope Francis. And join me in prayer and fasting for his ministry.”
Archbishop Chaput stated that Pope Francis “is a man from the new heartland of the global Church; a priest of extraordinary intellectual and cultural strengths; a man deeply engaged in the issues of contemporary life and able to speak to the modern heart; open to the new realities the Church faces; and rooted in a deep love of Jesus Christ.”
“He is a wonderful choice; a pastor God sends not just to the Church, but to every person of good will who honestly yearns for justice, peace and human dignity in our time,” added Archbishop Chaput.
“May God grant him courage and joy and sustain him with his Divine presence. And may Catholics in Philadelphia and around the world lift him up with our prayers.”
Pope Francis previously was archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is a Jesuit and is 76. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1958 and obtained a licentiate in philosophy. He was ordained a priest in 1969 and was a theology professor. He was a provincial leader for the Society of Jesus and a seminary rector.
He is the first Jesuit Pope and the first pope from the New World.
He was elected in a 24-hour conclave on the fifth ballot.
In a public statement, Archbishop Aquila added that the Petrine ministry was founded by Christ giving St. Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.
“For 2,000 years, the successors of St. Peter have served as the rock. ... Today, Pope Francis takes up the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. His leadership, his guidance and his friendship with Jesus Christ will guide Christ’s disciples for the years to come.”
Archbishop Aquila asked that Catholics join him in thanking God the Father for the gift of Pope Francis.
“Please join me, too, in prayer for his ministry,” he added. “And let us to commit to joining Pope Francis in a life of service, fidelity and friendship with Jesus Christ, our Savior and brother.”