settling in: Pope Francis, right, greets the head of the Vatican's pontifical council for social communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, centre, and the Vatican's spokesman Federico Lombardi, during an audience to members of the media yesterday at the Paul VI hall. Pope Francis called for "a poor Church for the poor" as he addressed thousands of the world's press, saying he chose his papal name because St Francis of Assisi shunned riches to help the destitute. —Photo: AFP

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COP youths welcome Francis

The Congress of the People (COP) Youth Congress has extended "sincerest wishes" to Pope Francis, the newly elected pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

"We also acknowledge the work of outgoing Pope Benedict XVI, and the leadership he rendered to the church in his time as pontiff," the Youth Congress said in a statement yesterday.

The result of the recent papal election speaks distinctly about the emerging place developing countries hold in international leadership.

"For the first time in our world's history, a non-European has been elected as head of the Catholic Church, signifying firm recognition of the relevance of Latin America and the developing world, of which Trinidad and Tobago is a part," the Youth Congress said.

"The Youth Congress believes that Pope Francis I, as the head of the world's one billion Catholics, will further unity, social justice, strong values and compassion to all of the peoples of the Earth. By this means, it is hoped that the pontiff will continue the promotion of values enshrined in the Gospels for the betterment of the entirety of humanity."

Over a quarter of the population of Trinidad and Tobago is Catholic, the Youth Congress said, adding, "Accordingly, the new Pope will provide a strong guiding force for a large section of Trinidadians and Tobagonians, in their spiritual lives and their general lives away from faith.

"As our nation reaches pivotal points, the significance of faith-based organisations in our nation's development must be underscored.

"We hope that this new development will engender a positive influence on Trinidad and Tobago, for the benefit and enhancement of our national and public lives."

The group added: "The COP Youth Congress wholly welcomes Pope Francis I's election as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and leader of the Holy See in Vatican City."

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