ARCHBISHOP Joseph Harris says his hope is that newly elected leader of the Catholic Church, Argentinian Pope Francis I, will place emphasis on the Caribbean, given that the region is situated close to Latin America.
In an interview yesterday. Harris said it was with a feeling of elation that he welcomed the news of Pope Francis's election.
And Monsignor Christian Pereira described as remarkable the speed at which the conclave of cardinals was able to pick a new pontiff yesterday to replace Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned earlier this month.
"It was so fast, they must have had a sense of his capacity to bring a certain amount of cohesiveness to the cardinals, to the administration of the church and to the pastoral missions," Pereira said.
"And for him to come from the lower hemisphere and the Americas is a fantastic recognition of the universality of the church. I saw him standing there in front of the people and it was indeed a very powerful moment," Pereira said.
Pereira said the election as Pope of 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who was born in Buenos Aires, is significant since it is the first time a non-European has been chosen to lead the church.
Archbishop Nicolas Girasoli, Vatican representative to Trinidad and Tobago, told the Express: "For me personally, I am extremely happy at the selection. I had worked with this cardinal when I served in Argentina. He is a simple man loved by all, especially the poor, and he is respected for his simplicity and love for the poor."
President of the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) of Trinidad and Tobago, Brother Harrypersad Maharaj, extended congratulations to Pope Francis I and the Catholic Church.
"Whether Catholic or non-Catholic, we all pray for the world," Maharaj said.
"We hope his mission will lift the hearts and minds of all of us."
In a telephone interview, Argentinian ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Marcelo Salviolo, told the Express that the people of Argentina are very happy.
"Well you know Argentina is majority Catholic," Salviolo said.
"At least 85 per cent of the population is Catholic so there is a sense of joy. Our President sent a message congratulating the new Pope. It is the first time we've had a Pope from Latin America and indeed from our country and South America.
"Trinidad and Tobago and other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America are members of CELAC (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) so it's our region."
—with reporting by Louis B Homer