Obama welcomes first Pope from the Americas
US President Barack Obama has termed the selection of Pope Francis I, the first Pope to be elected from the Americas, a historic day that signifies growing strength and vitality of the region.
"As a champion of the poor and most vulnerable among us, he (Pope) 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," Obama said in his congratulatory message.
Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elevated to the papacy by the College of Cardinals, making him the first Pope to be elected from Latin America.
"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 US share the joy of this historic day," Obama said.
Obama said he look forward to working with the new Pope towards advancement of peace, security and dignity for people throughout the world, regardless of their faith.
Vice President Joe Biden, would be travelling to Rome to represent the US at the inaugural mass. "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," he said.
"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 said.
Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi, in a statement, said with the election of Pope Francis I, the world's Catholics turn to a compassionate leader for the poor and a champion of the least fortunate.
"His selection is a sign of respect and admiration for the growing ranks of Catholics, indeed all people, across Latin America," she said.
Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said a new leader has emerged onto the world stage. "The church has decided to break with centuries of tradition in choosing its first non-European pontiff of the modern era," he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry also congratulated the new Pope, and said the US will work closely with the Holy See to advance their shared belief in peace and humanity.