By Charlie Creitz, Mar 14, 2013 09:30 AM EDT
(PHOTO CREDIT: Creative Commons)
As Venezuelans mourn the death of their leader, Hugo Chávez, Catholics worldwide are rejoicing in the christening of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I. But, interim President Nicolás Maduro claims the two are sacredly related.
In a television show Wednesday afternoon, shortly after "Habeus Papam!" was exclaimed from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Maduro expressed his delight in the choice of the world's first pope from Latin America. He added that the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina received some crucial campaign support no one on Earth could have offered.
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"The debate was between an African and a South American pope." Maduro said in his address. "Some new hand arrived [in heaven] and got to Christ and said, 'It is South America's time!'"
In Pope Francis' home country of Argentina, a major argument arose in the capitol in Buenos Aires when the conservative minority in the national Congress objected to the leftist majority's decision to continue with a grand ceremony honoring the life of Chávez when Francis I was announced. The right-wing opposition interrupted the ceremony to ask for a temporary adjournment when the announcement of the Argentinian pope occurred. The majority objected to the disruption and eventually won out and continued with the ceremony for Chávez.
Sources say the choice of Cardinal Bergoglio is indeed a sign of the increasing importance Latin America plays in the Catholic Church, as 39 percent of worldwide Catholics hail from the region.