Like many others in the Church and beyond I was seriously surprised at the election of Pope Francis: he is the first Latin American Pope; he is the first Jesuit Pope; he is the first Pope ever to take the name Francis, and I had thought that he was perhaps too old.
However, I find myself now seriously pleased with the choice the Cardinals have made. I think it is a piece of lateral thinking that is very welcome and brings a freshness to the Papacy that is also very welcome.
To see the new Pope appear on the balcony of St Peter’s in the simple white soutane and to speak as simply to the people as he did evoked the memory of Pope John XXIII. Then that he invited the crowd into a moment of silence to pray with him before he blessed them, again was very striking.
So here is a Pope renowned for his simplicity of life. We saw signs of that as he appeared on the balcony and we can only hope that that simplicity, the simplicity of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ himself, will typify the pontificate.
As we rejoice in the election of Pope Francis, we also pray that his health will hold up so that he might fulfil the mission that has been entrusted to him not just by the Cardinals but by the Lord Jesus himself.
Released by the Archdiocesan Communication Office, 14 March 2013