President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated the newly elected pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, President Jonathan welcomed Cardinal Bergoglio’s election as successor to Pope Benedict XVI as “a divinely inspired choice by the College of Cardinals and an unequivocal testimony of God’s abiding presence in His Church and the world.”
The statement reads, “The President joins Catholics in Nigeria and other countries of the world in praying for God’s blessings and Divine guidance for Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis as he assumes the papacy, trusting that he will put his acclaimed qualities and devoutness to the best possible use in resolutely guiding the Church through the many challenges it currently faces.
“President Jonathan and the Federal Government look forward to further enhancing the already cordial and excellent relationship between Nigeria and the Vatican under the leadership of Pope Francis, the beloved champion of the underprivileged and renowned crusader for global equity and social justice.
“The President also looks forward to collaborating with Pope Francis and the Holy See in working towards the realization of a much more secure, peaceful and just world order.
“As he prepares for his formal installation and ascension to the Papacy on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, the President prays that God Almighty will grant Pope Francis continued good health and strength, and the even greater knowledge, wisdom, understanding and divine insights he requires to successfully maintain the positive traditions of the Catholic Church and discharge the sacred Petrine Mission entrusted to him.”
Cardinal Bergogli is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be Pontiff. He is also the first Pope to be appointed out of Europe for 1,000 years.
He replaces Benedict XVI, who resigned last month at the age of 85, saying he was not strong enough to lead the Church.