Updated 14 March 2013, 12:30 pm

We in the fellowship of the World Council of Churches ask for God’s blessing for Francis I on his election as the new pope. We pray for his health and strength as he takes on this ministry of justice and peace.

This is a turning point in the life of the Roman Catholic Church, but it also has an impact on people of other churches and faiths.

Together with this humble pilgrim of the church, who has lived a simple lifestyle and reflects a passion for social justice and lifting up the poor, we reaffirm our commitment to seeking justice and peace.

We look forward to our continued engagement with the Catholic Church and their presence at our upcoming Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea in October and November where justice and peace is the focus.

Ever since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches have enjoyed constructive dialogue and cooperation on matters of faith, witness and the fundamental unity of the whole body of Christ.

We have learned that we are pilgrims together in the one ecumenical movement, and we are particularly grateful for the way the Catholic Church works with us on the highly significant issues of unity, ecclesiology, mission and inter-religious dialogue.

Now, in close collaboration with Pope Francis, we look forward to building on this positive relationship with the Catholic Church that has been nurtured so carefully in the past. An important aspect of the ecumenical movement is a concept of mutual accountability.

We in the World Council of Churches offer our cooperation to Pope Francis and the whole of the Catholic Church in this spirit. We will continue to cooperate in a loving and affirming relationship. In this way, we will grow together in grace and in hope toward that true unity of believers for which Christ prayed.

We are delighted to greet a pope from Argentina, the first pope from the Global South. Today the vast majority of Christians live in the Global South. The growth of Christianity in the South is likely to continue. This shift has already had an important impact on world Christianity. It is in this context that we will move forward, working together, building our relationship and addressing the important needs of all people today.

Let us use this opportunity to pray for and with Pope Francis to reconfirm that we need one another, to address the challenges of the world in our time.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches