The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has welcomed the election of Pope Francis I.
CBCP president Archbishop Jose Palma said they are happy the conclave has chosen the successor of Pope Benedict XVI, who retired on Feb 28.
"We are very happy that we have a new Pope. Just like everyone, we accept the surprise that he is not a European," he said.
With this, the Cebu prelate urged the faithful to follow and commit to the new Holy Father.
"Like all Christians, we are invited to give our full trust in him because he was one chosen by the Holy Spirit through the voting cardinals. Let us give our allegiance and be united with in whatever programs he wants to push," he added.
Palma also revealed that he was praying for Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who was reported to be one of the 'favorites' for the highest position in the Roman Catholic Church.
"I was praying for him (Tagle) but we cannot dictate upon the Holy Spirit; anyway he is still young," he said.
For his part, former CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo also applauded the selection of the new head of the Holy See.
"I feel that Pope Francis I was chosen both by the Cardinals and the Holy Spirit in just two days of conclave and even outside the number of papabile," he said.
At the same time, Lagdameo hopes that the name chosen by the newly elected Pope will inspire him in leading his ministry.
"Our new Pope Francis I has chosen St. Francis Xavier to be his patron in the papal ministry of New Evangelization, starting in this Year of Faith. Two other Francis may inspire Pope Francis I: St Francis of Assisi, a man of social action among the poor, and St. Francis de Sales, an educator of deep faith and gentle approach to religious divisions. Long live Pope Francis I," the Jaro prelate said.
Meanwhile, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said all the masses in the archdiocese on Thursday have been offered to the new pontiff.
"Let all masses today (Thursday) in the Archdiocese of Lipa be a thanksgiving for the new pope, Francis I, and a special prayer for the Holy Mother Church called to be missionary and to be church with the poor," he said.