Pope Francis – Reaction from Oceania

The Prime Ministers of Samoa and Fiji have expressed pleasure at the election of Pope Francis.

Speaking to Radio Australia last Thursday, The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilepe Sailele, who is a Catholic, said he was delighted at the election of a Pope from a developing country.

The Prime Minster of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama,in a letter of congratulations to Pope Francis said:

“We in Fiji joined the rest of the Christian world in celebrating the appointment of the first Latin American Pope and hope that your tenure will be marked by a renewed focus on the struggle of the developing world to address the challenges of poverty eradication, child mortality, education and gender equality amongst other issues.”

“We are aware of your work amongst the poor and marginalised in the Diocese of Buenos Aires and recognize and welcome your particular sensitivity to social problems and for ecumenical dialogue.”

“As you have requested in your first message to the world, we in Fiji will also be praying for you….”

Father Michael O’Connor, the president of the Pacific Regional Seminary in Suva, said he was “surprised but very happy” at the election of Pope non-European. “This highlights the fact that the centre of the Catholic Church, at least in terms of population, is located outside of Europe. And for us, it is also the first time a Pope has the southern hemisphere, which is another plus,” he said.

In American Samoa Bishop Quinn Weitzel, said the Diocese of Samoa – Pago Pago is “very pleased” with the new Holy Father, Pope Francis.

“Our former Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI was a wonderful holy servant of the Church and he fully endorses Pope Francis,” Bishop Quinn wrote. “Pope Francis asked all of us to pray for him and that, we will do.”

Bishop Quinn concluded, “Pope Francis is well known for his simplicity and for being a pastor among his people in Argentina. He used to take a bus to work, cook his own food, and was a great defender of the poor. He is a Pope who wants to serve others as a true servant.”


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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