New comments will be added as they are received
“All our prayers and very best wishes are with Pope Francis I as he begins his leadership of the Universal Church.
"I pray that in Pope Francis I, we have a pontiff who will and can govern the Church in a spirit of a bishop who utterly personifies but also firmly exhorts others without compromise to the fullness of the wisdom of both the life ethic and social ethic as articulated in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritatis; and who will reawaken and capture the collective imagination to the irreformable teaching that the ‘non-separation of the unitive from the procreative lies at the heart of true development.’ As Cardinal he was assigned the church of the Jesuit Saint, Robert Bellarmine in Rome.
"At this point in the Church’s history, the crisis of faith and the call from Pope Francis’s predecessor in 2012 for bishops to be ‘guardians of the memory of what it means to be human in the face of a civilization of forgetfulness;" it is pertinent to recall that in 1601 Bellarmine was asked by Pope Clement VIII to write On the Primary Duty of the Sovereign Pontiff. The Pope said he wanted the plain unvarnished truth, and he got it. The document said that if the Pope took care to appoint the right kind of bishops then he would be fulfilling his primary duty, but if he neglected this he would have to answer to God for the souls lost in this way. 'This consideration frightens me so much that there is no one in the world I pity more than the Pope,' wrote Bellarmine.
"As a man qualified in the study of chemistry I pray the Lord grants Pope Francis I, the gifts of applying the knowledge and appreciation for detail involved in mastering that scientific discipline with his continued deeply human and spiritual integrity so that in his persona as the Successor of St. Peter the world will witness in him something unique of the charisma of the Divine Physician Himself."
Bishop Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, UK
"It is with the greatest joy that we welcome Pope Francis I as the Successor of St Peter.
Fr Bernard Healy, Curate, Tralee, Ireland
"This surprise election is a reminder to us that the decision of conclave is based on the knowledge that the 115 Cardinal-Electors had of each other from their collaboration in the work of the Church and especially from the time they have spent working, praying and meeting together over the past week or so.
"They have obviously chosen from their number a man of evident humility and integrity, qualities that will speak powerfully to the world.
"As a relative 'outsider' in Curial terms, it will be interesting to see how he goes about the work of governance in the Church. The fact that his fellow Cardinals chose him so quickly as Pope suggests that they have huge confidence in his ability to confront the problems of the Church.
"The Holy Spirit is great at surprising us, and I look forward to seeing how He will surprise us through the ministry of Pope Francis. One can't but help think of St Francis of Assisi who was entrusted with the task of 'rebuilding' the Church in the 13th Century and of the Jesuit St Francis Xavier, the great evangelizing figure of the Jesuit Order in the 16th Century."
"Pope Francis was unknown to me, and so I had neither expectations or prejudices. But when he appeared on the balcony, he immediately impressed me. He seems to be a man of inner strength, rooted in humility and expressed in simplicity. A man of God.
"I think Pope Francis will be a wonderful champion for the culture of life and human dignity. He has called abortion a death sentence for the unborn, has condemned as hypocrites priests who refuse to baptise the children of single mothers, and spoken out against a culture where the elderly are discarded. His namesake, St Francis Xavier was the first Jesuit missionary. His mission, which was to restore Christianity where it was declining and teach it where it was unknown, is as necessary today. I was glad to hear Cardinal Murphy O'Connor describe Pope Francis as an inspired choice and a great blessing for the Church and for the World."
Louise Mensch, former MP, novelist and social media entrepreneur, UK
"Inspired choice, rides the bus with ordinary people, rumoured second last time. Latin America deserves a Pope, and the vast amount of Catholics there will be delighted. Great news for Spanish speaking Catholics in America."
"I have already tabled an Early Day Motion congratulating the Catholic Church on the election of Francis I as the new Pope. Given the great challenges that the modern world presents, I have no doubt at all that the Cardinals have made a very wise choice. I am sure I speak for all Parliamentarians of faith in wishing him well with the great Ministry that he has now assumed. I very much hope to meet him and express my personal congratulations on his election. I also believe that the new Pope, given his country of origin, will ensure that wise counsels prevail and that the people who live on the Falkland Islands will be allowed to determine their own future."
"So many firsts – First new world pope, first Jesuit, first Francis – and such a gentle, humble beginning, to ask everyone to pray for him. His smiling face will become greatly beloved, I believe. And how ecumenical is it for a Jesuit to take the name Francis! Wonderful."
"From a British point of view it is perhaps unfortunate that the first Argentinian Pope should be elected the day after the Falkland Islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain British rather than be taken over by Argentina. Pope Francis must take great care not to be used by the Argentinian Government as a weapon in its dispute with Britain. Even the slightest expression of support for the Argentine claim will be exploited ruthlessly by Christina Kirchner and would cause immense difficulties for the position of British Catholics
"I’m still absorbing the shock of seeing Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis – appearing on the balcony of St Peter’s. Many of us in the commentariat were expecting a kind of corporate pope whose priority would be to streamline the Roman Curia and balance the Vatican’s books. What the cardinals have given us instead is a man of radiant simplicity and holiness. His name evokes that of the saint of Assisi, who received a call from God to ‘rebuild my Church’. Pope Francis must see rebuilding God’s Church as his main priority. How will he do this? Perhaps by setting a personal example of what a life in Christ looks like."
"I haven't yet had time to learn a lot about our new pope, Francis I, but I am so so happy about what I am learning of him so far: this is what the Church needs: a man of great humility who is strong on key Church principles and passionate about social justice: both show his understanding of the great value of every person.
"It is a great joy to have a pope, and Pope Francis' first words were profoundly moving. What I have learned about him in recent weeks has impressed me: his humility and simplicity are something everyone remarks on. The choice of name is surely also very significant. I think we may see a new emphasis on evangelisation and pastoral care. It will be interesting to see how he shapes the papacy — and I'm very glad that he is fluent in Italian."
"I am delighted! I remember him from my visit to Buenos Aires in 1999. He is a simple man, did his own cooking, lived in a flat rather than the grand archiepiscopal palace, travelled to the offices on a bus. He has a heart! I was pleased that he stressed that he was above all the Bishop of Rome, and that he asked for God’s blessing before he gave his own!"
"A Jesuit intellect and a Franciscan spirit may be exactly the combination of heart and head that the Church needs at this time. St.Francis is often remembered for his prayer that he might be "a channel of peace" and that where there is hatred he might sow love. St.Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, is remembered for his prayer for generosity "to give and not to count the cost." Those are prayers and sentiments with which we should greet the election of the new Pope. "
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