Korean church-new pope

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Catholic Church on Thursday hailed the election of Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope.

The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires was elevated to the papacy by the College of Cardinals, who met at the Vatican on Wednesday (local time) to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI who resigned last month.

"I wish the new pope will lead the church to being a 'tool of peace' that can bring love, unity, truth and hope, and light and joy to the world," Yeom Soo-jung, the archbishop of Seoul, said in a statement.

Peter Kang U-il, the bishop of Jeju and head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, also welcomed the election of a pope who chose to name himself after the ascetic St. Francis of Assisi.

"The name St. Francis well represents the simplicity and integrity that he pursues," Kang said in a statement.

"We believe the new pope to lead the earthly church on behalf of Jesus Christ will serve as an apostle of peace who delivers good news to the poor and liberates the suppressed," he said.

Bergoglio is the first Latin American as well as the first Jesuit to become pope.

"We are already pleased with the news itself that a new pope was elected," Jo In-young, the priest in charge of public relations at the Korea branch of the Society of Jesus, told Yonhap News Agency.

"I'm particularly happy because a cardinal from the same religious order was chosen to lead the entire church," he said.

The Korean government also welcomed the election of Pope Francis.

"The government sincerely congratulates Pope Francis on his election," foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said, adding the government is considering sending a congratulatory delegation to the Vatican.

South Korea sent a congratulatory delegation led by a culture minister to the 2005 Mass to inaugurate Benedict XVI as Pope.

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