Blinken, Putin congratulate Pope Francis on 11th anniversary of election — By: Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis presides greets pilgrims at a penitential service at St. Pius V Parish in Rome on March 8, 2024. / Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Mar 14, 2024 / 09:20 am (CNA).

The international community on Wednesday sent congratulatory messages to Pope Francis to mark the 11th anniversary of his election to the pontificate, praising him for his leadership and peace initiatives over his nearly-dozen years at the Vatican. 

“Today, I join millions of Americans in congratulating the Holy Father on this anniversary as he continues his work of leading the Catholic Church and inspiring people around the globe to seek peace, charity, and compassion,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a March 13 statement

Blinken in his statement noted that the U.S. and the Vatican are “united by common values such as respect for human rights, including freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression.” 

“We continue to work together to address the challenges of climate change, human trafficking, food security, and the humanitarian effects of conflicts in the Middle East, Ukraine, and elsewhere,” Blinken concluded. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Francis on his anniversary in an official correspondence on Wednesday, remarking that the pope is a “a true and honest defender of peace and one of the few leaders with an honest strategic vision of world problems.” 

The Russian Embassy to the Holy See also wrote a congratulatory message on X, calling the pope “a true and sincere advocate of humanism, peace and traditional values,” and “one of the few political leaders with a truly strategic viewpoint on world problems.” 

Other world leaders such as Tsai Ing-wen, the president of the Republic of China, expressed “profound respect” for the pope’s leadership over the last 11 years, lauding him for having “promot[ed] peace and goodwill, particularly in Ukraine and Palestine.”

Ilham Aliyev, the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan, likewise reflected on the pope’s anniversary, noting his country’s “genuine dialogue and mutual understanding” with the Holy See, which has contributed “to preserving universal values and fostering solidarity among representatives of various religions and cultures.” 

Pope Francis — born Jorge Mario Bergoglio — was elected as the 266th successor to St. Peter on March 13, 2013, following the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. He previously served as the archbishop of Buenos Aires in his native Argentina. 

Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first from the Americas, has centered his pontificate on the care of migrants, environmental protection, and building a Church that reaches out to the poor and the peripheries.

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