Belize, who boasts a Catholic majority population, joins and rejoices with millions the world over with the selection of the new pope who is now the maximum leader of the Catholic community. There are 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide and Belize counts with a 40 % Catholic population or 131,000 Roman Catholics of a population of 327,719. Belize also enjoys a Hispanic majority population.
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the first non-European Pope in more than 1,000 years. He is from South America, making him a historic first Hispanic Cardinal to be elected as pope. Described as a conservative with "great compassion," the 76-year-old will be known as His Holiness Pope Francis I. He commands the Spanish language but of course speaks several other languages including Latin and Italian. He will be installed at the Vatican on Tuesday.
First impressions are always a good welcome sign and Pope Francis I (Francisco in Spanish) has shown a good sense of humor saying in his first appearance that it seemed that the Conclave went searching for a new pope to the end of the world, in Argentina. Pope Francis I also showed his humility. Before giving the multitude at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome a blessing, he asked the people to pray for him and ask God to bless him so that he can be a good Pope.
Belize Bishop Christopher Glancey and the Catholic community have also pleasantly reacted to election of Pope Francisco I, a Latin American Cardinal. They are pleased with his compassion and humility and also celebrate the fact that he is the first Jesuit Pope ever. Many world leaders have sent congratulatory messages to the Vatican City, and Prime Minister’s Dean Barrow’s is expected to be sent soon.