Father Kondwani Mwenegamba of Karonga Diocese has joined Malawian Catholics who have welcomed the election of Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio as leader of the 1.2 billion global Catholic faithful.
Mwenegamba said Malawians should not worry that an African did not gain the cardinals’ favour to lead the largest Christian church.
The priest said Africa and Latin America have similar challenges.
Mwenegamba said he was inspired by Pope Francis’ humility and simplicity, but said the pope should urgently address the problem of increasing secularism in the church.
A Catholic faithful based in Lilongwe, Levi Chirwa, said Malawian Catholics should embrace Pope Francis 1 and love him regardless of his region of origin because the Catholic Church is universal.
“My wish and prayer is that he will serve the church of God according to God’s will. I will keep the faith, and want him to lead us the right way. Pope Francis I is a humble man of God and he lives a simple life,” said Chirwa.
Another devout Catholic, Agnes Ndembera, said she had hoped for an African pope but she was happy with the conclave’s decision because Francis’ credentials made him the right candidate for the job.
Ndembera said she wants the pontiff to urgently address the sexual scandals that have become rampant among Catholic priests, saying the problems have tarnished the image of the church.
“I pray that God blesses the new Pope throughout his papacy. May he be granted a long and healthy life. The pope is an intelligent man and he seems to be humble. Also leading 1.2 billion Catholics around the world can be a pressure but even in his old age, he is still willing to take on such a hectic task. It is very inspiring,” said Ndembera.
In his first speech after his election, Pope Francis I said the church has always been known for its love and he expected the love to grow among Catholics.
“I would like to thank you for your embrace, also to the Roman Catholic Church and the bishops, thank you very much. And first and foremost, I would like to pray for our bishop emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him so that he is blessed by the Lord.
“Let us begin this journey for the Roman Catholic Church together. It is a journey of friendship, of love, of trust and faith. Let us pray always for one another. Let us pray for the whole world. Let us have a big brotherhood,” he said.