Political and religious leaders react to new pope

Vatican TV

Presentation of the new Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio


by Chris Patterson

(CNN) -- For the first time the Catholic church has a pope from South America.

Thought the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a bit of a surprise, leaders from governments and churches around the world weighed in with praise on the election of Pope Francis, who was born and raised in Argentina.

"His selection ... speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world," U.S. President Barack Obama said.

Obama said he looked forward to working with the pope to advance peace and dignity for people, regardless of their faiths.

Mexico's Catholic bishops released a statement praising the news.

"For the churches that are pilgrims in Latin America, it is the cause of great joy," the statement said. "For the Mexican church, it is a clear sign of love for the churches that are pilgrims in these lands."

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, president of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, called the new pope a reconciler and healer.

"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 said in a written statement.