Johannesburg - The election of Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, was welcomed by political parties on Thursday.
“The African National Congress welcomes the appointment of Pope Francis of Argentina as the 266th Pontiff of the Catholic church, who succeeds Pope Benedict XVI,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu.
“(We) believe that (the) Catholic Church, as the biggest church in the world, has enormous responsibility in the development of society as it applies to all churches and religious formations.”
He said the new pope, like his predecessors, would endeavour to promote peace and morality.
“We congratulate the South African Catholic community for being part of this process, which resulted in a successful papal conclave.”
Pope Francis was elected the new head of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday after 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI stepped down last month, citing his declining health. He became the first pope in more than 600 years to resign.
The National Freedom Party also welcomed the new pope's election.
“As the NFP we congratulate the Roman Catholic Church worldwide for the successful election of the new pope, and we wish the church all the best.
“We believe that the church will continue to play an important role on universal matters,” party leader Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi said.
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said it was “heartening” to note that Pope Francis was ready to challenge powerful interest groups, such as the Argentine government, when it backed a gay marriage bill.
“The ACDP believes that such men are rare, as many bow to the whims and dictates of the politically correct in today's society,” ACDP president Rev Kenneth Meshoe said.
“(Many do) ... not have the courage of their convictions to challenge the gross moral and social inequalities in society which are perpetrated by the few who occupy positions of power.” - Sapa