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Quebec religious leaders praise Pope Francis

03/14/2013 12:26 EDT | Updated 05/14/2013 05:12 EDT
The new leader of the Roman Catholic Church may not be Quebec's own Cardinal Marc Ouellet, but religious leaders in the province have nothing but praise for the new Pope Francis. The Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lépine, spoke with CBC's Daybreak on Thursday morning before heading to Rome, where he will extend the best wishes of Catholic Montrealers to the new Pope.

"Just the fact of having a pope outside of Europe is a big step because it gives confidence to the quality of Catholic life throughout the world," Lépine said.

He also remarked on the symbolism behind the Pope's name, pointing out that St. Francis of Assisi is synonymous with humility and simplicity.

Montreal's Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, who was one of three Canadian cardinals to take part in the papal conclave, said he believes Quebecers will like the new Pope.

He said while Pope Francis is a bit older, he is a warm and humble man.

"He is a holy man, who is close to the poor," Turcotte said.

His record of working with the poor made Pope Francis’s election a pleasant surprise for Father Ernie Schibli, priest at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Mission in Pointe-Claire church and the president of the Social Justice Committee, a human rights organization working in development education in Central America.

“After Popes John Paul and Benedict, I just didn’t think we were going to get someone like him,” Schibli said.

“First of all, a Latin American — I didn’t think one would be chosen from that part of the world.”

Schibli added that he and Pope Francis have common backgrounds in working with the poor in Latin America.

He said he hopes Pope Francis will continue to listen to and work with the poor, and to be a Pope of the people.

Father Michael Murray, president of Loyola High School and a Jesuit priest, said Pope Francis’s election is refreshing for the Catholic church.

“I think he’s a very free man, bright and simple,” he said.

Of what he thought Pope Francis would bring to his new role, Murray said, “Like John XXIII, maybe some fresh air into the Vatican, and simply the possibility, really, of some renewal.”

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