CBCP welcomes new pope

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MANILA, March 14, 2013— The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has welcomed newly elected Pope Francis, 76-year old Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina. 

Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP president, said they are glad that the Church has a new leader, expressing happy surprise that a cardinal outside Europe was chosen for the post. 

“We are happy that we have new pope and like many others, we also accept the surprise that he is not European,” Palma said. 

“Like all Christians, we are invited to give our full trust to him and give our allegiance to him and help him in all his programs,” he said. 

Pope Francis will replace Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who stepped down last month for age and health reasons, saying he was no longer strong enough to lead the Church. 

The 76-year old pontiff was not among those many had considered the strong papal contenders. 

Pope Francis also holds the distinction as the first Jesuit pope, the first pontiff from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe in over a thousand years. 

Palma said all the archdiocese and dioceses across the country will hold prayer service for the intention of the world’s 266th pope in the Church’s 2000 year history. 

In the Archdiocese of Lipa, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said all Masses today will be offered as thanksgiving for Pope Francis. 

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said, “it was the Holy Spirit that decided” that Francis is the kind of pope that the Church needs today. 

“The conclave was the hour of God for the Church, chosen Pope Francis,” he said. 

San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, for his part, said that the mere fact that the pope has taken his name after St. Francis of Assisi “is already a big statement.” 

“We will immediately think about poverty and the simplicity of St. Francis of Assisi. We also know him as a big reformer of the Church,” said David. 

“Pope Francis was already known to be a simple man… low key. His name was not even among those ‘papabile’. I think this pope will have a deep impact to our Church,” he said. (Roy Lagarde) 


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