CATHOLICS from around the north have celebrated the election of a new Pope – Pope Francis.
The first-ever papal leader elected from the Americas, the religious leader has been described as an austere Jesuit intellectual who modernised Argentina’s conservative Catholic church.
Bishop of the Diocese of Armidale, Michael Kennedy, said the speedy election of Pope Francis was a sign of unity within the college of cardinals and the whole Church.
“This election was guided by the Holy Spirit and, with the first pope from South America, it is a sign of the growing and young face of the Church as it reaches out to people of all the world,” he said.
Bishop Kennedy said Pope Francis had a sound theological experience and a compassionate heart.
“He has demonstrated a deep concern for people,” he said.
In keeping with the request of the Holy Father to “pray for me”, Bishop Kennedy yesterday off- ered a mass for the new pope and asked Catholics and other people of good will to heed the request and continue to keep Pope Francis in their prayers.
Across the region the news of the new pope was welcomed through the flock of thousands of North West and New England parishioners, Catholic organisations, the nine convents, 26 presbyteries and 26 Catholic schools, particularly the Narrabri St Francis Xavier’s school which now has a real papal name connection.
Figures suggest there are about 45,000 people who identified as Catholic in the 2011 census who live in the North West and New England region.