VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI sent a personal message to President-elect Barack Obama on November 5, congratulating him and offering his prayers for Mr Obama and for all the people of the United States.
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said that because the message was addressed personally to Mr Obama the Vatican did not plan to publish it.
However, he said, the papal message opened by referring to the “historic occasion” of the election, marking the first time a black man has been elected president of the United States.
The Pope congratulated Mr Obama, his wife and family, Fr Lombardi said.
“He assured him of his prayers that God would help him with his high responsibilities for his country and for the international community,” Fr Lombardi said.
The Pope also prayed that “the blessing of God would sustain him and the American people so that with all people of good will they could build a world of peace, solidarity and justice,” the spokesman said.
Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone also sent a message.
Fr Lombardi said it was likely a formal message also would be sent on the occasion of Mr Obama’s January 20 inauguration; in past years, the Vatican custom has been that the pope congratulates a new US president only when he formally takes office.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, was published on November 5 with an opinion piece headlined “A choice that unites”.
Mr Obama must unite the nation, a process L’Osservatore said would be helped by the concession speech of Senator John McCain, who referred to Mr Obama as “my president”.
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