By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 15 March 2013
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Thursday congratulated Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on his election as the new pope and lauded his decision for taking the name Francis.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected the 266th Pontiff to lead 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world on Wednesday.
In a statement released by the Tibetan leader’s private office, the Dalai Lama said he offers “greetings and sense of joy on your historic
election as the Pope.”
He particularly lauded the new pope for choosing the name Francis.
“Although I am not very familiar with many Catholic saints, I do know about St Francis, having visited Assisi and attended inter-religious gatherings there,” the Tibetan leader said. “His discipline, the simplicity of his way of life and his love for all creatures are qualities that I
find deeply inspiring. I am moved to know that his is the name you have chosen for your papacy.”
The Dalai Lama had met with the immediate predecessors of the new pope — Pope Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI — on many occasions.
“I hope that I may have the honour of calling on you too sometime in the near future,” he said.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio is known for his frugal living, and is the first pope to take the name of St Francis of Assisi, a gesture of solidarity with the poor.
The 76-year-old Cardinal from Buenos Aires became the first-ever pope from Latin America, and the first Jesuit pope. He opened his pontificate by praying on Thursday morning at Rome’s main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary.