Bishop Peter Ingham welcomes the election of Pope Francis I

Bishop Peter Ingham today warmly welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio SJ as the new Pope. Taking the name Francis, the new pontiff was elected on the second day of the Conclave of Cardinals.

Bishop Ingham said he joined with all Catholics in praying for the new Pope as he took on the awesome responsibility of leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Bishop Ingham said, “I am very excited! The election of a new Pope is always a joyous time for the Church as was witnessed by the massive crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square braving the rain. He looked so calm and humble during what would have been a very daunting moment in his life. I liked how he asked the people to pray for him.

“Although a somewhat unexpected candidate, I am thrilled with the decision and I think it shows that the Cardinals really have listened to the Holy Spirit. Being from Latin America, the new Pope brings with him the perspective of the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere. He also brings with him a great social conscience. He is a champion of the poor, which is clearly evident in the simple spartan lifestyle that he has lived.

“As a member of the international Jesuit order, which means the Society of Jesus, the new Pope comes from a great legacy of spiritual leadership, prayer, and a strong focus on education and social justice – being a voice for the voiceless. As Archbishop Denis Hart said, he focuses us on following Jesus closely.

“The name he has chosen is also a very important sign to us. St Francis Xavier (from whom our Wollongong Cathedral takes its name), was a great Jesuit missionary. Another great Saint in our Church was Saint Francis of Assisi; a man of poverty, humility and simplicity who gave up everything in the world to respond to Christ’s call to rebuild his Church. The Church’s nature is missionary and is always in need of reform and rebuilding.

“I see this as an opportunity for the Church to start afresh and renew its allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ through our pledge of allegiance to our new Holy Father. Pope Francis cannot be expected to solve every problem. The challenges that face the Church at present, especially in Australia, cannot be understated. However, it is my hope that the election of Pope Francis will give us fresh heart and encourage us to persevere in the faith (cf Acts 14:22) and to meet the challenges ahead in a spirit of truth, justice and healing.

“Just as Jesus selected Peter from among the Apostles because of his strong faith, this new Successor of Saint Peter is a gifted man chosen under the influence of the Holy Spirit and affirmed by the Church. We pray for our new Holy Father, Francis, as he begins his journey in the footsteps of St Peter as an Apostle for peace and goodness for the whole world.”

Bishop Peter Ingham will be celebrating a special Mass of thanksgiving for Pope Francis I tomorrow (Friday 15 March) at 12.10pm at St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Wollongong (36 Harbour Street). Everyone is warmly invited to attend.


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