It is with a sense of real joy that I welcome the election of Pope Francis I as the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. Like all Catholics I am very excited and encouraged by this news.
Pope Francis is widely admired as a man of simplicity and humility and he brings to the papacy extensive pastoral experience from his time as the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The Pope’s choice of “Francis” as his new name evokes for us the spirit of poverty and simplicity of St Francis of Assisi.
Perhaps, too, given that Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, he is directing us to the great evangelising energy of the Jesuit St Francis Xavier.
The great challenge for Pope Francis is to help us all to re-awaken our faith in Jesus Christ, who proclaimed himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and to lead us as we seek to deepen our commitment to Christ and to his Church.
All the challenges currently faced by the Church come down to this. We are meant to be disciples of Christ and living signs and instruments of his continuing presence and action in our world.
This is our great gift to the world. I look forward to Pope Francis recalling us to this urgent task and helping us to live it in concrete ways.
In the name of the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth I pledge our obedience and loyalty to Pope Francis.
We know that it is only through our communion with the whole Church, symbolised and made concrete through our communion with the Bishop of Rome, that we can be faithful to God’s call and confident of our fidelity to the task of offering to the world the precious gift of Christian faith in all its integrity, a gift which we believe the world desperately needs.
I invite all Catholics to pray for the new Pope as he begins his daunting task and I hope that all our fellow Christians will join us in this prayer.
The cardinals have elected Pope Francis after much reflection, discussion and prayer.
We can be confident that the Holy Spirit will now assist Pope Francis as he seeks to lead and guide the Church in its ongoing journey at this challenging time.