Commission for Ecumenism & Interfaith Dialogue

Humble man welcomed as 266th Pope: NCCA


The announcement that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina has been elected the 266th pope for the Roman Catholic Church has been welcomed by the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA). He has taken the pontifical name of Francis.

Born 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires he entered the Society of Jesus in 1958, ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998. Bergoglio has a master’s degree in chemistry, a licentiate in philosophy and has taught literature and psychology.

As cardinal he has served in several administrative positions in the Roman Curia including, the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Congregations for Institute of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.

In Buenos Aires he is well known for his humility and commitment to social justice. His simple lifestyle in a modest apartment, the use of public transport and reportedly cooking his own meals has been seen as him relating to the people.

In 2009 the Catholic News Agency reported that he called for an ethical response to address the problem of social debt, saying that, not only do terrorism, repression and murder violate human rights, but also extreme poverty and the “unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities”.

“In an age when churches are seeking justice and peace for all, Pope Francis with his experience and commitment to the poor and his constant call for the eradication of poverty offers the Catholic Church leadership that will be warmly welcomed by the millions of Catholic faithful particularly those in developing nations,” NCCA general secretary Reverend Tara Curlewis said.

“Australia has always warmly welcomed papal visits and each pope has been remembered for their particular engagement with the Australian people. We look forward to the day when Pope Francis will visit this land, until then we assure the new pontiff of our prayers.”

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