Thanksgiving Mass for Pope Francis

Published 14 March 2013  |  

A thanksgiving Mass was held in Westminster Cathedral today for the election of Pope Francis.

The 76-year-old from Argentina was elected on the second day of the conclave on Wednesday.

The thanksgiving Mass was led by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who spoke of the "great joy" he felt about the election of a new Pope.

Echoing the promise of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his last address to the College of Cardinals, Archbishop Nichols said the nation's Catholics were ready to give their "unconditional reverence and obedience" to Pope Francis.

Archbishop Nichols admitted he had been "taken by surprise" by the choice of Pope Francis.

"However, once Pope Francis had appeared upon the balcony with that lovely smile, his simplicity and humility evident, the initial surprise soon gave way to the certainty that this is an inspired and inspiring choice. Yes, this is the work of the Holy Spirit," he said.

The Archbishop said he was sure the Church would be "richly blessed" through his papacy, adding that Catholics would be praying for their new Pope.

He added Pope Francis had spoken to Benedict XVI on the telephone shortly after his election last night.

"This conversation was a most historic moment: a new pope speaking with his predecessor on the phone," he said.

"And, just as the ending of Benedict's papacy has its place in our great history, so too does the election of Pope Francis: the first non-European for 1,000 years; the first ever from Latin America; the first Jesuit pope; the first Francis."

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