14th Mar 2013 11:45am | By Editor
The election of the 266th Pope, Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will be known as Francis I, has been greeted with delight by Oceania's Catholics.
"His appointment is a sign to the Catholics of Latin America and the whole world of the invitation given to all to follow Jesus closely," said President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Denis Hart.
Bergoglio is only the second pope in history to come from an industrial working class background and the first for over a thousand years from outside Europe.
Father Michael Gielen a kiwi priest studying at the Vatican described the atmosphere in St Peters Square to the New Zealand Herald.
"The most beautiful thing was he said 'Can you please bless me before I bless you'. That was amazing," Fr Gielen said.
"It's wonderful to see the faith is so alive. There's so much joy."
World leaders have also added their voice to the cacophony of congratulations
"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 2,000 years," said US President Barack Obama.
"[This is] A momentous day for the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world," said British Prime Minister David Cameron rather noncommittally.
The Dalai Lama released a statement to Pope Francis which read: “May I offer you my greetings and sense of joy on your historic election as the Pope...I do know about St Francis, having visited Assisi and attended inter-religious gatherings there.
"His discipline, the simplicity of his way of life and his love for all creatures are qualities that I find deeply inspiring. I am moved to know that his is the name you have chosen for your papacy.”
Other branches of the Christian church have also had their say: "His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere, not least among Anglicans," said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
"We have long since recognised, and often reaffirmed, that our churches hold a special place for one another. I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors."
Images via Getty