Photo: President Fernandez and then Cardinal Bergoglio (Mercopress)
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez on Wednesday congratulated countryman Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the new Pope Francis I, on his election as Catholic pontiff, saying she wished him success in his pastoral duties.
“In my name, in (the name) of the Argentine government and on behalf of the people of our country, I want to greet you and express my congratulations,” Fernandez said in a letter.
“It is our wish that upon assuming leadership of the church your pastoral work is fruitful, undertaking such great responsibilities in pursuit of justice, equality, fraternity and peace for humanity,” it added.
“I express to your Holiness my consideration and respect,” Fernandez concluded.
Cardinal Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, on Wednesday became the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and the successor to now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who stepped down on Feb. 28.
The 76-year-old Bergoglio, who is both the first Jesuit and the first Latin American to reach the papacy, has often been at odds with Fernandez and her late predecessor - and husband - Nestor Kirchner.
Bergoglio clashed with the government over Fernandez’s bid to impose a windfall-profits levy on farm exports, the approval of a law authorizing same-sex marriage and the battle over abortion rights.
In 2010, the Argentine Catholic Church hierarchy launched a crusade against the same-sex marriage bill and slammed the government for supporting the legislation.
Bergoglio headed demonstrations, mobilized priests in defense of family values and organized vigils outside Congress in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to stop the measure.