New Pope will be a powerful advocate for social justice
Caritas Australia, the international aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church, has welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, Pope Francis, as the first Latin American and Jesuit Pontiff.
Caritas CEO Jack de Groot said Cardinal Bergoglio, the 266th Pope, is a robust defender of the poor and the first Pontiff to be elected from the Southern Hemisphere.
“His is a man of passion, simplicity, coupled with a strong heart for the poor,” said Mr de Groot.
“He is also a strong advocate globally for social justice and the upholding of human dignity.”
It is estimated that 80% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean are Catholic.
Mr de Groot said Pope Francis would be a powerful influence in developing countries around the world, fighting for the rights of the poorest of the poor.
“Cardinal Bergoglio is a man who has lived through conflict in Argentina and is well aware of the challenges the church faces in the 21st Century, including those faced by the poorest of the poor,” said Mr de Groot.
“He is named in the great tradition of St Francis of Assisi who was a man of social justice and peace and had a love for the poor.
“His compassion was demonstrated when he visited a hospice in 2001 to wash the feet of 12 patients living with HIV/AIDS.”
“Later in 2007 Cardinal Bergoglio highlighted the importance of social justice when he told a gathering of Latin American bishops that they lived in ‘the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most, yet reduced misery the least.’”
“Cardinal Bergoglio went on to say that the ‘unjust distribution of good persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.’”
Caritas Australia works in partnership with local communities in 35 countries throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, Indigenous Australia and the Pacific.
In Latin America, Caritas works in four countries, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil and El Salvador.
Mr de Groot added that Pope Francis would be a powerful successor to Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.