Leaders from around the world are sending their congratulations to the newly elected leader of the Roman Catholic church, Pope Francis, who is the first ever Latin American to become bishop of Rome.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina on Wednesday also became the first Jesuit to become a pontiff and the first to be named Francis, after Saint Francis of Assisi, protector of the poor.
U.S. President Barack Obama praised the selection of the first pope from the Americas, saying that it speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that he said is increasingly shaping our world. He was among the first to extend best wishes to the new pontiff, whom he called the champion of the poor and vulnerable.
Vice President Joe Biden, who is a Roman Catholic, will lead the U.S. delegation to attend the new pope’s inauguration mass in the Vatican next Tuesday.
In Costa Rica, the Asamblea Legislativa also sent a congratulatory message to the new pope.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Wednesday saying that the United States is committed to working with the Holy See to advance a shared belief in peace and humanity.
Pope Francis, like the saint whose name he has chosen, is noted for his humility and commitment to social issues.
He has also been criticized for his firm opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, and for his absence of criticism against the atrocities committed by Argentina’s military regime between 1976 and 1983.