Reaction came from all over the world upon the election of the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope Francis following a vote by the conclave of elector cardinals assembled at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican on March 13.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow and President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland said of the election of Pope Francis;
"I was surprised that the conclave was so quick. It took hardly any longer than the election of Benedict XVI. Given the pre-Conclave situation, and the absence of a single dominant figure, I can only see this quick result as God's work. As soon as I heard I went into my chapel and offered a grateful and joyful prayer of thanksgiving … Deo Gratias!" He added, "He is a man of firsts. The first Latin American. The first Jesuit. The first Pope Francis. I think we can take from his first appearance that he is a humble, spiritual and calm man. A reconciler and healer, with a strong background on social justice. His name reminds us of the little saint of Assisi. A simple man who was the poor servant of Jesus and who was given the message 'rebuild my church'. It is a very significant message for our time. He may also have in mind St Francis Xavier the great missionary and a reminder of the need for a new evangelisation. We missed having a Pope. Catholics feel the need for Peter. We now have Peter back. The new Pope will give us joy and confidence."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops congratulated the newly elected pope, saying “Pope Francis I stands as the figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside. The bishops of the United States and the people of our 195 dioceses offer prayers for our new leader and promise allegiance to him,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Intense prayer from all around the world surrounded the election of Pope Francis I. The bishops of the United States thank God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspired choice of the College of Cardinals.”
Judie Brown, president of American Life League and three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life, said in a statement following the election of Pope Francis,
"This is a historic moment for the Catholic Church. We now welcome Pope Francis I, who we pray to God follows in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. Recall that Christ said to St. Francis, "Rebuild my Church!" This is the very challenge that our new Pope will have to confront. We need to pray for our new Holy Father, do penance and make sacrifices for him and do all we can to intercede, asking our Lord in our prayers that this new pope will indeed rebuild. No more talk of compromise on questions of abortion, contraception, homosexuality or euthanasia. No more tolerance for those who claim to be Catholic while supporting vile acts such as abortion."
Rabbi David Rosen, who serves as director of interfaith affairs for the American Jewish Committee told JTA in an interview that Pope Francis is a "warm and sweet and modest man" known in Argentina for taking public transportation, doing his own cooking and personally answering his telephone. After the still unresolved terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, he "showed solidarity with the Jewish community," Rabbi Rosen said.
In 2005, it was Cardinal Bergoglio was the first public personality to sign a petition demanding for justice in the AMIA bombing, which has often been linked to the Islamist government of Iran. The prelate was one of the signatories on a document called "85 victims, 85 signatures" as part of the bombing's 11th anniversary. In June 2010, Cardinal Bergoglio visited the rebuilt AMIA building to talk with Jewish leaders. "Those who said Benedict was the last pope who would be a pope that lived through the Shoah, or that said there would not be another pope who had a personal connection to the Jewish people, they were wrong," Rosen said
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leader of the world's Anglicans, offered a welcome to Pope Francis, saying “We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world.
“His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere, not least among Anglicans. We have long since recognised—and often reaffirmed—that our churches hold a special place for one another. I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors. May the love of Christ unite us, and intensify our service in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism that can be a blessing for the Body of Christ throughout the world.
“Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows. His choice of the name Francis suggests that he wants to call us all back to the transformation that St Francis knew and brought to the whole of Europe, fired by contemplation and closeness to God."
Rachel Donadio of the New York Times wrote, "It remained to be seen whether Cardinal Bergoglio will display the mettle to tackle the dysfunction and corruption that plagued the papacy of his predecessor.
Israeli President Shimon Peres on March 14 spoke to a delegation of Catholic bishops visiting from Poland and welcomed the announcement of the election of Pope Francis. Said Peres, "The new pope will be welcomed in the Holy Land with love and appreciation by Jews, Muslims and Christians as one."
Argentine daily newspaper, La Nacion, welcomed the election of Cardinal Bergoglio - a native son - to the papacy. "It is hoped that Bergoglio, known for detesting the poison and intrigues of the Roman Curia, will 'cleanse' the Vatican, following the lead of Pope Benedict XVI, who denounced the 'disfigured face of the Church' as well as the divisions that characterized the years of his pontificate."