BWA to attend papal inauguration

Baptist World Alliance President John Upton announced plans to attend the inauguration of Pope Francis March 19 at the Vatican.

By Bob Allen

Leaders of the Baptist World Alliance offered congratulations to Pope Francis, elected the 266th head of the Catholic Church March 13, and announced plans to attend the new pope’s inauguration March 19 at the Vatican.

"The BWA celebrates with the Catholic Church the announcement of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis,” said BWA President John Upton.

john uptonUpton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, plans to represent the 42 million Baptists in 121 countries who make up membership in the BWA, at the papal inauguration.

“The prayerful discernment process of the Catholic Church in selecting the pope has been a comfort to us all," Upton said. "Pope Francis will have our prayers as he begins his responsibilities."

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam has a prior engagement in India and is unable to take up the official invitation from the Vatican to attend the pope’s inauguration.

"The Baptist World Alliance welcomes the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope Francis,” Callam said. “As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former cardinal's commitment to the proclamation of the gospel, his record of solidarity with victims of social injustice, his affirmation of the value of a simple lifestyle and his exemplary humility has provided much encouragement to the community of believers in Christ."

Callam said the new pope "will be accompanied by the prayers of the members of the world Baptist family, who also anticipate the pope's positive contribution to the realization of the vision of the church reflected in the High Priestly prayer of our Lord."

-- Based on an Baptist World Alliance news release.