Francis I

Francis I

Bishop of the Diocese of Roseau, Gabriel Malzaire, has welcomed the election of Pope Francis as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

“It is with great joy that we welcome the election of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis I,” the bishop said. “The clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Roseau rejoice in the election and pray that God will bless with abundance his pontificate.”

The new Pope, Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected on Wednesday as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. He is the 266th pontiff of the church and is the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years, to lead it.

Bishop Malzaire described this as ‘a truly historic moment.’

“This certainly represents a new era in the life of the church,” he said.

He stated that the new Pope’s choice of name is significant. “Choosing the name Francis is no doubt an expression of the Pope’s simplicity and also his awareness of the church’s responsibility to the poorest among us,” he said. “His reputation of being a strong voice on many significant social issues, his deep personal spirituality and a great sense of prayer makes him an appropriate leader for the church in our time.”

Bishop Malzaire said the faithful in Dominica are praying that under the new Pope’s leadership, the “church universally, will find a new inspiration and zeal to proclaim the gospel in word and action.”

Francis is known as a humble man who spoke out for the poor and led an austere life in Buenos Aires.

He was born in 1938 and later joined the religious congregation The Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. He was made archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and named cardinal in 2001.

In Buenos Aires, Francis chose to live in an apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, refused a chauffeured limousine, took the bus to work and cooked his own meals.

After he was elected Pope, he declined the papal car that had been prepared for him for the ride to the papal residence and took the bus with the other cardinals instead.

“May God forgive you for what you have done,” he jokingly told the cardinals over dinner.