Praised be Jesus Christ!  With the Church throughout the world, the Diocese of Trenton offers prayers of joyful and hope-filled gratitude at the election of His Eminence Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J., as the Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter.  A truly inspired choice, our new Holy Father Pope Francis brings to the Chair of Peter pastoral gifts and ecclesial experience especially well-suited to his new role as universal Shepherd of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis had received much attention in the conclave that elected Pope Benecdict XVI.  I am sure that his name was still fresh in the minds of today's cardinal-electors who were present then.  He has a reputation for scholarship, leadership and for a deep humility and simplicity.  The choice of the name "Francis" certainly indicates his respect and admiration for the beloved saint who bears that name.

As he stood on the loggia of St. Peter's, Pope Francis exuded a peaceful and radiant joy, speaking of love and compassion and warmly thanking those gathered to greet him.  He has a kind and gentle smile that seemed to touch those who witnessed this historic moment in the Catholic Church.  The story is told that the day following his consecration as bishop, he spent in a soup kitchen.  I sense almost immediately that the Church will love and embrace him with joy and hope.  And he, in turn, will love the Church that he now shepherds.

As Successors to the Apostles, Bishops are special collaborators with the Pope in fulfilling the mission given them by Christ to teach, to govern and to sanctify.  I look forward to sharing these responsibilities with our new Holy Father Pope Francis I, especially for the Church of Trenton, and I ask its clergy, religious and lay faithful to join me in praying for him as he begins his apostolic ministry in the Chair of Peter.

May Mary, Mother of the Church, draw him ever closer to the heart of her Beloved Son.  St. Peter, pray for us!  St. Francis, pray for him!