15 Mar 2013

Maori Catholics have great expectations for new Pope

6:43 am on 15 March 2013

Maori Catholics hope the new leader of the church will take on the character of those saints he now shares his name with.

Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, is the first ever South American pope, and has taken on the name Pope Francis I.

He was elected by a conclave of cardinals after Pope Benedict XVI recently tendered his resignation.

He took the name Pope Francis in honour of St. Francis of Assisi because he is a lover of the poor.

Maori Catholic Runanga executive member Danny Karatea-Goddard says in addition to St Francis of Assisi, who was born in 1226, another namesake was St Francis Xavier, born in 1506.

He says St Francis Xavier was known as a person who would go out and evangelise and share the gospel with the rest of the world while St Francis of Assisi was into reformation or transformation and social justice.

Mr Karatea-Goddard says Maori parishioners are expecting great things as they wait to see how Pope Francis I will contend with the many different issues facing the church.