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MOSCOW, March 14 (Itar-Tass) – The Russian Orthodox Church hopes that the newly elected pope will continue the policy of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, towards the development of relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, acting secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate’s foreign church relations department Dmitry Sizonenko told Itar-Tass on Thursday after Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th Bishop of Rome.
The Argentine cardinal was among the most probable candidates, but “in the recent time he has disappeared from media highlights,” he said. “The surprise is that the new pope is a Jesuit and a worshiper of Francis of Assisi, whose name he chose as his papal name.”
According to Sizenko, the new pope is a man of great humbleness, since “as soon as his name was announced, he first asked to pray for him before he blesses the flock.”
“The fact that in Argentina he was an ordinary for Catholics of the Eastern rite and therefore is well familiar with the Eastern Christianity makes us hope that the relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches would be further developed and that Francis I would follow the course of Benedict XVI,” the spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church said.