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Humble pope may signal change for Asia

Catholics hope for return to 'true mission'

Catholic leaders and civil society organizations said on Friday that the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis signals hope that the Vatican will pay closer attention to the needs of the poor throughout the world, particularly Indonesia.

Archbishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta of Semarang said the selection of the name Francis, which is reminiscent of St Francis of Assisi, was symbolically important.

“As an individual and also representative of the Indonesia Bishops’ Conference, I express great joy over the election of Pope Francis.”

Civil society workers have said the simplicity of the new pope’s life while he served in Buenos Aires was a character trait that could well inspire Catholics to refocus their faith.

“Yesterday I read an article saying that [then] Cardinal Bergoglio always called on the people of Argentina not to travel to Rome for Easter or Christmas but rather donate the money they would have spent on travel to the poor,” said Eveline Winarko, coordinator of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Jakarta.

“I hope that Pope Francis will help the Church to better reflect its true mission – to love and serve the poor and suffering.”

Maria Yohanista Djou, who works with the Catholic-affiliated NGO Mitra ImaDei that works with women and minority groups, said she hoped Pope Francis would help improve respect and opportunities for women.

“Our Church remains far from the teachings of Jesus. Women are still regarded as a second class group.”

Meanwhile, Lambert Pekikir, head of the Free Papua Movement, said a new pope who is perceived to be closer to the poor and disenfranchised could help end injustice in the country.

“As a Catholic who leads the movement, I hope the Holy Father will open his heart to see the problems in Papua which have persisted for more than 50 years.”

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