Africa responds

And from South Africa:

The Catholic Church in South Africa has welcomed the election of Pope Francis with great excitement. Spokesman for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Fr. Chris Townsend said the choice of the Latin American pope was a significant acknowledgment that church’s “centre of gravity has moved out of Europe”.

“It is a huge move from the cardinals. We have in this man someone known to be very simple in his lifestyle, but as a Jesuit, he is no fool,” Townsend said. Jesuits form the largest single religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, also known colloquially as “God’s Marines”, and are distinguished for their work in education, intellectual research, social justice and cultural pursuits.  

Townsend said like most of the world’s Catholics, he yearned to be at St Peter’s Square for the historic moment when the new pope was introduced and gave his first blessing but said the scenes in Buenos Aires must also have been “thrilling”.

Townsend said there was particular excitement in the Catholic world about the name “Francis” which symbolises poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding. He said the church in South Africa would be hoping for a visit from the new pope but also more attention on the developing world.

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