Choice of Latin American pope speaks to vitality of region: Obama

Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:14pm EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama offered warm wishes to new Pope Francis I on Wednesday and said the choice of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina speaks to the vitality of increasingly important Latin America.

Vice President Joe Biden will lead the U.S. delegation to ceremonies at the Vatican marking the new pope's installation, an Obama administration official said.

Obama called the new pope "a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us."

"As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day," Obama said in a statement.

(Reporting By Steve Holland and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Newly elected Pope Francis (C), Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina appears on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being elected by the conclave of cardinals, at the Vatican, March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile