Archbishop of Canterbury wishes new Pope every blessing

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has warmly welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the successor to Benedict XVI.

Pope Francis was elected on the second day of the conclave at the Sistine Chapel in Rome, becoming the first Pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit Pope and the first Pope to take the name Francis.

Archbishop Welby said his election was "of great significance to Christians everywhere".

"We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world," he said.

The Archbishop said the Catholic and Anglican Churches "hold a special place for one another".

He said he was looking forward to meeting the new Pope and "walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors".

"May the love of Christ unite us, and intensify our service in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism that can be a blessing for the Body of Christ throughout the world," he said.

"Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows. His choice of the name Francis suggests that he wants to call us all back to the transformation that St Francis knew and brought to the whole of Europe, fired by contemplation and closeness to God.

"As I begin tomorrow a prayer pilgrimage toward my own inauguration as Archbishop in Canterbury next Thursday, Pope Francis will be much in my own prayers, as he will be throughout the coming months and years."

The Church of England has published a special prayer for the new Pope:
Almighty God,
shepherd of souls,
we pray for Francis chosen to be Pope:
Guide him by your Spirit,
give him grace to lead people in prayer and zeal
and to follow in the footsteps
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.