Helen O’Brien, CEO of CSAN the social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales
“All our prayers and very best wishes are with Pope Francis I as he begins his leadership of the Universal Church.
"Recognising that ‘human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities’ Pope Francis has been a tireless campaigner for the alleviation of poverty, the promotion of human dignity and the realisation of the Common Good.
"We look forward to drawing inspiration and guidance from his teaching as we strive to fulfill these fundamental principles of Catholic Social Teaching here in England and Wales.”
Edmund P Adamus, Director for Marriage and Family Life Archdiocese of Westminster
"The election of Pope Francis is a welcome surprise not least as it completely subverts the superficial speculations of the mass media and proves that the Sacred College were indeed open to the Holy Spirit. I am particularly intrigued by his reputation for his tangible love for the poor coupled with his outspoken defence of true marriage and the family.
Bishop Mark Davies
"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 of Shrewsbury, UK
"It is with the greatest joy that we welcome Pope Francis I as the Successor of St Peter.
"Let us use this moment to renew our loyalty to the Pope and promise to stand steadfastly with Peter’s Successor in his witness to the faith.
"May this love adn loyalty which our faith in Christ inspires belong not only to this moment of rejoicing but continue in all the years ahead.
"Let us begin in prayer for Pope Francis tonight in the great responsibility he has accepted out of love for Christ and for His Church."
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."
Father Vincent Twomey, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology at St Patrick's College Maynooth, and former doctoral student of Pope Benedict
"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.
"The short conclave probably indicates that there will be a basic continuity with the outlook of previous pontiffs, though clearly there will be a very different style (less travel?) and new emphases (option for the poor, justice, etc.).
"I am delighted that a Latin American has been elected. His election will give an inspiration to the Churches in the Americas -- and will help bring some of the riches of that great continent's Catholic experience to the rest of the worldwide Catholic Church. What Blessed John Paul II did for Poland and Eastern Europe, Pope Francis will probably do for Argentina and the rest of America, North as well as South.
"The new Pope will be expected to reform the Roman Curia and that should preoccupy his early months. I get the impression that he is a man who knows what he wants and has the ability to deliver.
"The fact that he is of Italian extraction, means that the new Bishop of Rome will get the sympathy of the Romans and Italians generally, both at home and, especially, abroad.
"His choice of name indicates not only his love for il poverello, Patron Saint of Italy, (or St Francis Xavier, great Jesuit missionary?), but his independence of mind. He will be a great Holy Father."
Caroline Simons, legal advisor to the Pro Life Campaign, Ireland.
"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."
, 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."
David Amess, MP, former Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See
"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."
Francis Davis, Writer and former UK cabinet advisor on faith
"The Church has reached an abyss. Compromised by episcopal failings over child protection, of a certain arrogance in liturgical and other styles. The road back will need the discipline of Ignatius and the simple zeal of a Friar like Francis. Our new Pope combines both of those attributes in his life so far and in the name that he has chosen. But for those of us who know Buenos Aires and its outlying communities there is a certain hope that comes with the awareness that his parishes have included some of the poorest on the planet . Such sights will not have left him. Such smells and suffering are far from faculty libraries .And he has emerged to speak of being a Bishop of Rome. Welcome Pope Francis I - source, God willing, of renewal and and a recovered episcopal humility"
Breda O'Brien, Columnist, Irish Times, Ireland
"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."
Neil Addison, Barrister and Director of Thomas Moore Legal Centre, UK
"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
"Whilst there are many challenges facing the Church one of the most urgent must surely be to put the child abuse crisis clearly in its place as a problem of the past. The entire issue of how child abuse allegations are dealt with internally by the Church and a duty to report such allegations to national law enforcement authorities needs to be put in a specific and new section of the Code of Canon Law. At present the procedures are spread around in a variety of enactments which makes defending the Church more difficult than it needs to be. If it can be shown that the rules of the Church are beyond question in this area then the new Pope can perhaps look to the future unlike the position of Pope Benedict who through no fault of his own kept being dragged back by the unresolved scandals of the past."
Luke Coppen, Editor, Catholic Herald, UK
"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."
Petra Conroy, Co-ordinator of Catholic Comment, Ireland
"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.
"He is known for his simple lifestyle, cooking his own meals and using public transport when he can. I was so impressed that as he was presented to the world, he first stood in silent contemplation, then invited all to prayer, in particular for Pope Emeritus Benedict, and then spoke so warmly, so engagingly to the people. His Italian heritage and Argentinian birth are a great sign of the universality of the Church. I think this Pope will lead the Church to exciting, invigorating, evangelistic times ahead."
D. Catherine Wybourne, Prioress of Howton Grove Priory, UK
"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."
Father Timothy Radcliffe, OP, former Master of the Order of Preachers, UK
"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!"
David, Lord Alton of Liverpool, UK
"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. "