The Uniting Church in Australia has welcomed the election of Pope Francis. Pope Francis was elected to the papal office to replace Pope Benedict XVI on March 13. Pope Benedict XVI, 85, resigned from the position in February citing his age and ill health as reasons for being unable to continue.
The new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics is an Argentinian priest and the first non-European to hold the position in more than 1000 years.
Pope Francis, 76, is also the first South American and first Jesuit to be elected. President of the UCA, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, said he prayed that God would “bless Pope Francis and the Catholic Church throughout the world in the important ministry”.
“I gladly reaffirm the friendship of our churches in Australia and our shared commitment to work here for the justice and peace promised in the resurrection of Christ,” Rev Prof Dutney said.
Members of the Uniting Church’s Christian Unity Working Group, which conducts dialogue between the UCA and other churches, including the Catholic Church, also welcomed the news.
“We pray for Pope Francis as he moves into this new area of ministry,” acting secretary of the Christian Unity Working Group, Maureen Postma, said.
“The Uniting Church members of the Roman Catholic/Uniting Church Dialogue wish their colleagues in the Catholic Church God’s blessing as they welcome their new Pope,” Dialogue Co-chair Rev Bruce Johnson said.
“The worldwide interest in this historic event will provide fresh perspectives to our conversations about the way we engage with the wider society in proclaiming the faith of the Church.”