President Obama offered the newly selected Pope Francis "warm wishes" and prayers from himself and the first lady as he begins his papacy in a time of transition for the Vatican.
"As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years — that in each other we see the face of God," Mr. Obama said in a statement.
As the first pope from the Americas — Pope Francis served as a cardinal in his home of Argentina for his entire career, Mr. Obama said his selection "speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world. "alongside millions of Hispanic Americans," he said, "those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day."
"Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith," Mr. Obama said.
Emerging from a meeting with Mr. Obama and the rest of the House GOP conference, reporters asked Speaker John Boehner, a Roman Catholic, about his thoughts on the selection of Pope Francis.
"Congratulations," Mr. Boehner deadpanned.
"I'm happy they were able to come to a choice as quickly as they did," he continued when pressed for a longer reaction. "I think reaching out beyond the traditional continent of our church is commendable and is best and the right direction for the church."
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Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at email@example.com.
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