* * *
President of the United States, Barack Obama
“On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.
As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he 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.
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 United States share the joy of this historic day.
Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith. We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
“I offer my heartfelt congratulations [to the new Pope]… I look forward to continuing cooperation between the United Nations and the Holy See, under the wise leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis.
We share many common goals – from the promotion of peace, social justice and human rights, to the eradication of poverty and hunger – all core elements of sustainable development.
I am certain that His Holiness will continue to build on the legacy of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in the promotion of interfaith dialogue which is at the heart of the Alliance of Civilisations initiative.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin
“I am confident that the constructive partnership between Russia and the Vatican will continue, and will further develop on the basis of the Christian values that unite us. Your Holiness, I wish you good health, well-being and productive work in strengthening peace and in furthering dialogue between civilisations and religions.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying
“We hope that under the leadership of the new Pope the Vatican will adopt a practical and flexible attitude and create conditions for the improvement of China-Vatican relations.”
Al-Azhar (Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning) spokesman Mahmud Azab
“We are hoping for better relations with the Vatican after the election of the new Pope.”
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner
“We wish him, as he takes the reins of the Church, a fruitful pastoral mission, with such tremendous responsibility on his shoulders, seeking justice, equality, brotherhood and peace among mankind.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron
“A momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world as His Holiness Pope Francis I is appointed the 266th Bishop of Rome.”