Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were quick to congratulate Pope Francis I on his election to head the Catholic Church on Wednesday.
“Thanks be to God for our new pope, Francis I,” said House Speaker John Boehner, one of 163 Roman-Catholic members of Congress.
“American Catholics rejoice over this news, and offer our prayers and blessings to His Holiness with confidence that he will fill the Chair of St. Peter with grace. Even more special is that our church will be led for the first time by a Holy Father from the Americas, marking a new milestone in the history of a faith that has endured for millennia.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, a Southern Baptist, said that Americans of all faiths congratulate Francis on “becoming the spiritual leader of the world’s more than 1 billion Catholics.”
“As a voice of clarity and force on the great moral challenges of our time, the Pope plays a uniquely constructive role in world affairs,” he said. As a herald of the Christian message of charity and reconciliation he calls all of us to a greater recognition of the inherent dignity of all men and women.
“We wish him health, happiness, and strength in facing up to the responsibilities and the burdens of his office.”
Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Methodist, paid tribute to Pope Benedict XVI while offering praise for Pope Francis I.
“Pope Benedict XVI inspired us with his unwavering commitment to faith during, as he put it, ‘today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.’
“The election of Pope Francis I is a jubilant occasion for millions of Catholics in Ohio and around the world, and I join them in welcoming this new faith leader.”
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