Panaji: Special prayers were held during regular mass in Goa churches on Thursday after Pope Francis was elected to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
Goa, which has 27 per cent population believing in the Catholic faith, was holding prayers for the new Pope right from the day when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the papacy.
"It is a pleasant surprise for us. We were always sure that the Church which belongs to Jesus is guided by him," Fr Francisco Caldeira, spokesman of Archdiocesan of Goa and Daman, told reporters on Thursday.
"For us nationalities are not important. What is important is commitment to Jesus," he said. The parishioners were also seen discussing the humble nature of the newly inducted Pope, which according to some reports includes his regular bus drive to the simple downtown apartment he chose over an opulent Church estate.
"From biographical data available about the new Pope, it is our firm conviction that he will guide the Church in this turbulent time. He is simple. He is humble. He is connected with the people which are the qualities which Jesus had and witness to," Fr Caldeira said.
Fr Savio Barretto, rector of Bom Jesus Basilica, where the relics of St Francis Xavier are preserved, termed the news as "thrilling."
"We are thrilled that we have a Pope who is not European. He is a Jesuit. I am proud to have a Pope who is our order," he said.