‘A pope for the 21st century’

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The Bishop of Lancaster says the new head of the Catholic Church is a “pope for the 21st Century”.

Bishop Michael Campbell has welcomed the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will be known as Pope Francis I.

Bishop Campbell, who has spent time in Rome during the conclave to elect the new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, said: “Coming from Argentina Pope Francis I is the first non-European pope in a thousand years.

“He is also the first member of the Society of Jesus, the first Jesuit, to be the successor of St Peter.

“This is also the first time that a pope has chosen the name of ‘Francis’, associated with the great saint of simplicity and poverty, St Francis of Assisi.

“Pope Francis I is the pope for the 21st century who can show the harmony between faith and reason.”

Pope Francis, the first Latin American to hold the post, appeared on a balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square in Rome after white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney on Wednesday evening signalled the election of a new pontiff.

The 76-year-old replaces Benedict XVI who stepped down due to ill health last month.