By ACNS staff
The Archbishop of Canterbury and Secretary General of the Anglican Communion have welcomed the appointment of the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Elected this evening, Pope Francis, as he will be known, is the first ever Pope from Latin America.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby, tonight offered his warmest welcome to the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as the successor to His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world.
“His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere, not least among Anglicans. We have long since recognised—and often reaffirmed—that our churches hold a special place for one another. I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors. May the love of Christ unite us, and intensify our service in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism that can be a blessing for the Body of Christ throughout the world.
“Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows. His choice of the name Francis suggests that he wants to call us all back to the transformation that St Francis knew and brought to the whole of Europe, fired by contemplation and closeness to God.
“As I begin tomorrow a prayer pilgrimage toward my own inauguration as Archbishop in Canterbury next Thursday, Pope Francis will be much in my own prayers, as he will be throughout the coming months and years.”
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon said, "Millions of Anglicans throughout the world will join me in praying for Pope Francis and his future ministry and leadership among our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church. The symbolism of electing a non-European emphasises the shift of the centre of world Christianity. We pray for him in the many challenges he and all who serve in positions of Christian leadership face today."
Archbishop of Brisbane and Primate of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, has expressed his support and prayers for Pope Francis.
“The election of Pope Francis is of huge significance to our Catholic brothers and sisters, as well as Christians generally,” Archbishop Aspinall said. “Pope Francis brings with him a wonderful reputation for social justice, care for the poor and humility,” Archbishop Aspinall said.
"His appointment as leader of the Roman Catholic Church comes with great hope, expectations and responsibility.
“I offer my support and prayers, along with those of Australia's Anglicans. The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will be enthroned in London next week, meaning two of the largest Christian world communions each have new leaders to face and address the challenges of the future.”
A statement by the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said, "In company with millions of men and women throughout the world of different Christian traditions to his own, I assure the new Pope of our prayers as he begins his new ministry. An Argentinian of European parentage, he brings together in his own person the cultures, hopes and spiritual needs of the first world and of the developing world, so much to be valued amidst the complexities and apprehensions of our globalised earth. He has been a champion of the needs of the poor and dispossessed, and, in the simplicity of his own lifestyle, he has sought to reflect the life of the much-loved saint whose name he now carries in the future, Saint Francis.
Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, said, "As the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Armagh I extend also to Cardinal Seán Brady, to Jesuit friends throughout the island and to all the Roman Catholic people of Ireland, our best wishes, with the hopes and prayers of many fellow-Christians, as Pope Francis now embarks on the ministry to which he has been called." I welcome the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope in succession to Pope Benedict XIV. Pope Francis I brings to the papal office years of pastoral concern and scholarly care for people and priests in his native Argentina.
"The name Francis connects us with the celebration of God’s creation and the love of the poor which characterized Francis of Assisi. The first Francis combined God’s call of him with a life of simplicity, prayer and community. Pope Francis will be much loved in doing the same.
"I wish Pope Francis I all that is best as he undertakes a work of God for the people of God within the Roman Catholic Church. He does so in solidarity with Christians everywhere as together we seek to serve God in loving our neighbours and engaging with people of faith worldwide and at home in Ireland."
The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said: “The Scottish Episcopal Church warmly welcomes the election of Pope Francis. He is known for his simplicity of life and his compassionate humility. The church in South America expresses vigorous life and a deep commitment to justice for the poor.
“God has called him to this ministry at a time when its demands seem overwhelming. We pray that God will equip him with the grace which he needs to fulfil the task. We also pray that his many gifts and his experience will enable him to lead the church forward in mission and service.”
Pope Francis replaces Pope Benedict who made history last month by being the first Pope to retire in 598 years.