Pope Francis: Catholics, world leaders welcome church's new leader

LONDON -
(AP) -- World leaders are sending their congratulations and Catholics around the world are celebrating after the Vatican announced the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy -- making him the first pontiff from Americas.

President Barack Obama offered warm wishes to newly elected Pope Francis.

"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."

President Barack Obama.Obama said the selection of the first pope from the Americas speaks to the strength and vitality of the region. He said millions of Hispanic Americans join him in praying for the new pope.

Obama said he looks forward to working with the pope to promote peace, security and dignity for people of all faiths.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday was "a momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world." European Union leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso wished the new Catholic leader "a long and blessed pontificate."

In Latin America, there were tears and cheers at the news that of the first pope from the hemisphere. Even in Communist Cuba, there was pride as church bells rang to celebrate the news.

On Twitter, the pope's mothballed account was revived and read: "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM," a reference to the cardinal's new name: Pope Francis.

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