Shillong, March 14 (IANS) Catholics in the predominantly Christian state of Meghalaya Thursday reacted with joy as Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th pope in the Catholic Church's 2,000-year history and took the name of Francis I.
Archbishop of Shillong Dominic Jala, who offered Pope Francis I his congratulations, prayers and support, said: "He is God's timely gift to us all."
"We thank God for the gift of Pope Francis. His personal commitment to truth and justice, his humility and simplicity, his choice of St Francis of Assisi, a man of humility, poverty and peace, says it all," Jala told IANS.
State Urban Affairs Minister Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh, who watched on TV Wednesday as cardinals elected a new Pope, described Pope Francis I as an "humble person".
"I was overwhelmed when he asked the audience to pray for him... his own simplicity of life, I think will be a great example to people," Lyngdoh said.
Congratulating Pope Francis I, former leader of opposition in Meghalaya assembly Conrad K Sangma said: "The Catholic community all over the world are that the Holy Father Pope Francis will lead the church into a new era. I pray that the God gives him the strength to lead the church in coming times."
Echoing Lyngdoh, Rebecca Suchiang, a devout Catholic, said it was welcome that the new Pope so humbly asked the audience to pray for him.
Another young Catholic leader, George Lyngdoh Mawphlang said: "The very gesture of him choosing the name Francis after St Francis of Assisi means he wanted to send a message of simplicity and not grandeur to the world about the papacy."
Catholic Authors Guild president Loniak Marbaniang said: "Pope Francis I is a humble man who understands the plight of the oppressed and marginalized people. We hope that he will understand the problem of the church and rectify the wrong things that have taken place in the church."
"I am sure he will provide great leadership in these challenging times for both the church and our world," he added.
Catholics comprise nearly 750,000 of the northeastern hilly state's total 3 million people.
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