New Zealand Bishops message of congratulations to Pope Francis.

The New Zealand Bishops today sent their first communication to the newly elected Pope Francis to congratulate him and offer their prayerful support.

Read the full text of the letter below.

15th March 2013
His Holiness Pope Francis
00120 Vatican City

Your Holiness,

On behalf of the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of Aotearoa New Zealand we send you our prayerful good wishes and congratulations on your election to the See of Peter.

You are someone chosen to be Bishop of Rome from a country far away; we too are very far away deep in the Southern Hemisphere. However we remain connected through prayer. We, along with the people of New Zealand, take this opportunity to assure you of our loyalty and prayerful support. As you asked for the prayers of those gathered in St Peter’s Square we felt that we were already united with you, and we will continue to support you in prayer.

We awoke to the news of your election here and people greeted the news with great joy. Many people, including leaders of other Christian Churches and other faiths have already expressed their hope and excitement in response to your choice of name, as they have recognised the witness you have shown in the spirit of St Francis, of a life of prayer, simplicity, humility and concern for the poor, marginalised and vulnerable. As Bishops we hope to reflect this and we pray that our church will grow even more in prayerfulness, solidarity, service and concern for the poor.

On behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and all the Catholic faithful of New Zealand, we assure you of our deep loyalty and our ongoing prayerful support as you pastor the Universal Church.

† John A Dew
Archbishop of Wellington
President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference