Salford’s Catholic community are looking to the future with ‘hope and confidence’ after the appointment of Pope Francis, a priest told MM today.
The pontiff, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, became the 266th successor of St Peter and first Latin American – and first Jesuit – Pope in history.
Father John Flynn, communications officer for the Diocese of Salford, said he is delighted with the selection and praised the humility and selflessness of Pope Francis.
“Pope Francis is well known for his simplicity of life and generosity towards those on the margins of society,” he said.
“His request of people to pray for him during his inaugural address is a sure sign of his humility and openness to the needs of others.
“We are grateful to God for this moment; it is a time for celebration in the Church and an opportunity for us to move forward together, as the Pope himself suggested.
“The Bishop, Priests and people of the Diocese of Salford offer their warmest congratulations to Pope Francis. We look forward to the future with hope and confidence.”
Pope Francis, who preferred to travel by bus while serving in his Diocese in Buenos Aires, is renowned as a humble, selfless man.
In 2001, he kissed and washed the feet of Aids patients while visiting a hospice.
Father Flynn believes Pope Francis’ past work with the poor and generosity of spirit will set a shining example for all Catholics.
“As a Cardinal, Pope Francis was a man who was heavily involved in the life of his diocese in Buenos Aires, Argentina,” he said.
“He did a lot of work with the poor, and was well loved by priests and people in South America.
“He is renowned for being an excellent communicator, so I would imagine that he will make efforts to get the message across pretty clearly.
“He is also very appreciative of the need for us to be more and more ready to help those on the margins of society.”
As a Jesuit, Pope Francis is known to be conservative on Church doctrine but has, in the past, criticised priests who refuse to baptise babies born to single mothers.
He claims adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children but believes condoms “can be permissible” to avoid infection.
Manchester Universities’ priest chaplain Father Tim Byron – a Jesuit himself – gave some insight into the order and registered surprise that a member has ascended to become Pope.
“I’m surprised as it’s never happened before,” he said. “St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, intended that his priests did not become bishops.
“This was at a time in the 16th century when a key problem in the Church was clearical ambition, meaning that some piests wanted to become bishops for reasons of money and power and that is the obvious path to corruption.
St Ignatius was keen that Jesuits focused on the pastoral work and that they would take vows where they would not seek positions of power or influence.
“With Pope Francis we believe that it is the Holy Spirit working through the cardinals.
“He seems to have a great belief in social justice and helping the poor and that can only be a good thing.”
Picture courtesy of Catholic Churc via Flickr, with thanks.