Pope Francis is an 'inspired choice'

Pope Francis blesses the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the VaticanAP

Catholic leaders in the UK have spoken of their delight over the election of Pope Francis.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor praised the selection of a "humble", "very simple" and "very intelligent" man, and said the Church was "very blessed".

"Above all, I think he is a holy man, a spiritual man and I think he will bring a new kind of style to the Catholic Church," the Cardinal told the BBC.

He noted the significance of the Pope's choice of the name Francis, known as a man of the poor.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said the simplicity of Pope Francis' life would be a "great example to people".

"For many people, this may be a surprise selection. For me, it was an inspired choice and I am very, very happy not only for the Catholic Church but for the world," he said.

The Cardinal added that Pope Francis, hailing from Argentina, would be a "very popular choice because the Catholic Church now is a global Church in a way that it hasn't been ever before".

"The church that was eurocentric … is now a global Church in a new way and this man understands that."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales expressed his joy at the news.

"On behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, I wish to express my great joy at the news of the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 265th Successor of St Peter and Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

"As he begins his new Apostolic ministry, as the Bishop of Rome and Shepherd of the universal Church, Pope Francis I may be assured of the prayers and loving support of the Catholic community throughout England and Wales."

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