BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman hailed late Wednesday the recent election of Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina to head the Catholic Church.
“While I make my address to you, a historical moment has occurred during which Pope Francis was elected,” he told the Lebanese community in Senegal, referring to the name Bergoglio chose as head of the world’s largest Christian church.
“Congratulation to the world, the Catholic Church and Argentina, where there is a Lebanese community,” Sleiman, who is on an official visit to African states, said.
Bergoglio, 76, was elected Wednesday, becoming the first pope to be elected from outside Europe in over a millennium.
Sleiman described Pope Francis as “the pope of the poor, the man of change and God willing his election will be a blessing.”
Sleiman, accompanied by his wife, arrived in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, Tuesday night at the head of a 59-member delegation.
Sleiman will head to the Ivory Coast Thursday on the second leg of his West Africa trip which will also take him to Nigeria and Ghana.