BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench held a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to speak about the election of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio to become Pope Francis I.
Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope Wednesday and chose the name Francis, becoming the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
According to the Catholic Diocese, there are more than 230,000 Catholics in the Greater Baton Rouge area.
During the news conference, Bishop Muench released a statement saying "the election of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio to become Pope Francis I is a cause for great rejoicing for the church and the world."
He goes on to say "Pope Francis brings a myriad of gifts - spiritual and human -- to his new office as Vicar of Christ on earth. His presence today revealed a humble man of God and person of great inspiration.
"Deeply holy and prayerful, faithful to Christ and the Church, well-versed in matter of ecclesiastical leadership and administration, Pope Francis is eminently suited to assume the awesome and daunting responsibility as the successor to St. Peter.
"The entire Diocese of Baton Rouge, and I personally, offer hearty congratulations and best wishes to our new Holy Father on his selection.
"We pledge our filial support, unswerving loyalty, profound affection and fervent prayers.
"Ad multos annos! (Hearty Congratulations!)"
During the news conference in Baton Rouge, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, released the following statement:
Statement from the President on His Holiness Pope Francis
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. 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 two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith. We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.