Catholic leaders elected a new pope on Wednesday in one of the fastest conclaves in recent Church history. Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected in five voting rounds and has chosen the name of Pope Francis.
World leaders were quick to welcome the new Catholic leader.
Argentine President Cristina Fernández was among the first to congratulate the new Catholic leader. British PM David Cameron said Wednesday was "a momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world." In a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, too, offered their best wishes to the new Pope. Obama added:
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.
Take a look at the slideshow below for more reactions.
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. Caption: US President Barack Obama arrives on Capitol Hill to meet with the House Republican Conference in Washington, DC, on March 13, 2013. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday was "a momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world." Caption: British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his speech on the economy during a visit to precision grinding engineers Cinetic Landis Ltd on March 7, 2013 in Keighley, England. (Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
EU leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso wished the new Catholic leader "a long and blessed pontificate." Caption: French President Francois Hollande, left, meets European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, during a meeting focused on the Malian situation, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
In my name, and the Argentine government and the representation of the people of our country, I want to salute and congratulate [Pope Francis] with his election as new Roman Catholic Pontiff. Caption: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures before the inauguration of the 131th period of ordinary sessions at the Congress in Buenos Aires on March 1, 2013. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
"On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I offer warm congratulations to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on his election as Pope Francis. He has the best wishes of all Irish people, of all traditions, as he undertakes the immense responsibility of his pontificate." "We pray that he will have the strength, the good health and the spiritual guidance needed to lead the Catholic Church in the many challenges it faces." Caption: Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny leaves the EU Headquarters on February 8, 2013 in Brussels, on the last day of a two-day European Union leaders summit. (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he looked forward to cooperation with the Vatican under Pope Francis' "wise leadership." Caption: UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, speaks during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, March 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)