Seoul (AsiaNews) - The South Korean government welcomed the new pope. It "sincerely congratulates Pope Francis on his election," foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said, adding that the government is considering sending a delegation to the Vatican for a first meeting. This reflects the joy experienced by the South Korean Church at the election of its new pontiff.
"I wish that the new Pope would lead the Church following in the footsteps of Benedict XVI as a tool of peace in the world that can bring love, unity, truth, hope, light and joy," said Mgr Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul.
In the capital, the city's Catholic cathedral welcomed the election ringing its bells; a solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was also celebrated.
For Mgr Peter Kang U-il, bishop of Jeju and head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, the pope's choice of name says it all.
"The name Saint Francis well represents the simplicity and integrity that he pursues," Kang said in a statement. "We believe the new pope will lead the earthly church on behalf of Jesus Christ and will serve as an apostle of peace" in a world that needs it.
The South Korean branch of the Society of Jesus is also very happy. "We are already pleased with the news that a new pope was elected," said Fr Jo In-young, who is in charge of public relations, but "I'm particularly happy because a cardinal from the same religious order [as ours] was chosen to lead the entire church".