14 Mar 2013

Excitement, joy in New Zealand for next pope

9:21 pm on 14 March 2013

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference is greeting the election of Pope Francis with joy and excitement.

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has been chosen for the role by his fellow cardinals and has taken the papal name Francis I

The 76-year-old Argentinian is the first pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit to hold the office.

New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop John Dew says it's a wonderful time for the church and the name Francis reflects a sense of social justice.

He says the cardinals have chosen well.

A New Zealand priest studying in Rome, Michael Gielen, says the name chosen by the new pope suggests a new age for the Catholic Church.

Mr Gielen, who is from the Hamilton Diocese, was in St Peters Square when Pope Francis addressed thousands of Catholic faithfuls following his election.

He says Saint Francis, where he suspects the name comes from, was told by the Lord to rebuild the church, which is significant.

A religious historian at Notre Dame Research University in Indiana, Professor Scott Appleby, says he expects the pope's main focus will be on evangelism.

The Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn, says Pope Francis will bring a new culture to the Vatican.

He says Pope Francis is rooted in South American Catholicism and will bring a new perspective to the papacy.

Bishop Dunn says the new pope's chosen name of Francis says he intends to rebuild the Catholic faith.

Pope Francis will be officially installed as the leader of the Catholic Church on 19 March.