Incoming US President Barack Obama has won back a significant proportion of the Catholic vote previously lost to George Bush, electoral analysts say.
The International Herald Tribune quoted several religious experts saying that the swing in the Catholic vote in this year's election may be one of the more significant political developments, despite the emphasis that Democrats have put on attracting evangelical voters.
Although Kerry is Catholic, he won only 47 percent of Catholic voters, while Bush drew 52 percent. That represented a reversal from 2000 when Gore won 50 percent of Catholics and Bush won 47 percent.
On Tuesday, Catholics, who accounted for about a quarter of the electorate, supported Obama, at 54 percent, over McCain, at 45 percent.
Pope Benedict has also sent a personal note to incoming US President Barack Obama saying that he will be praying for God's blessings on the American people and their new president.
The pope's spokesman says Obama will get the message later today when it's relayed through the US ambassador to the vatican, NBC Online reports.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said the the message calls Obama's victory a historic occasion, and offers warm wishes to Obama, his wife and family.
Despite differences particularly on the abortion issue, the Vatican said on Wednesday it hoped Barack Obama will work to promote peace and justice in the world.
"All of us are hoping that Obama will be able to meet the expectations and hopes directed at him," Fr Lombardi said.
He told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that the Vatican hoped the man elected to be the United States' first black president would "work for the cause of rights and justice, finding suitable ways to promote peace in the world, fostering people's development and dignity while respecting essential human and spiritual values."
"Faithful are praying so that God may enlighten him and give him a hand in his huge responsibility, so that he will govern well," Lombardi said.
Pope Benedict congratulates Barack Obama (NBC Online, 5/11/08)
Obama helped to victory by the 'God' vote (International Herald Tribune, 5/11/08)