THE leader of Catholics in Hartlepool has welcomed the appointment of the new Pope.
The election last night of Pope Francis I, from Argentina, was welcomed as “a momentous day” across the globe.
In Hartlepool, Father Adrian Tuckwell, of the Owton Manor’s St Patrick’s and St Teresa’s churches, described the news as a “surprise”.
Father Tuckwell, who is also the Dean of Hartlepool, said: “Once again the Church has surprised us.
“I think it has been a very quick election, I thought it may have taken three or four days. But now the appointment has been made we can all rejoice that we have a pope again, a father for the Church and a peer for us.
“There was no real front-runner this time, not as there was when Benedict was appointed in 2005.
“But the new Pope will now get a chance to show the world what he has shown to the cardinals.”
Father Tuckwell added: “I think this Pope will have a different focus.
“I don’t think he is going to come in and rip up the rule book, but I think there could be a different focus now as a main priority.
“The name Francis is significant.
“St Francis was a man who challenged the Pope of his day, he lived a very simple life and in the world we live in today, there are a lot of people in difficult situations facing different challenges.
“I think choosing the name Francis could give us some indication what type of Pope he is going to be.
“Some church leaders can be a bit remote, but I don’t think Pope Francis I will be.
“I think there will be a bit of intrigue over the next few days and weeks, but overall the appointment will be welcomed.”
Minutes after the new Pope addressed the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square, Rome, Prime Minister David Cameron gave his reaction.
He tweeted: “A momentous day for the 1.2bn Catholics around the world as His Holiness Pope Francis I is appointed the 266th Bishop of Rome.”
Pope Francis I’s dramatic election was signalled when white smoke billowed from the conclave of cardinals meeting in the Sistine Chapel.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio came second in the conclave which chose Pope Benedict XVI, who retired last month.
He is the first pope to be chosen from outside Europe for more than a millennium.
Pope Francis I, who is the first pope from Latin America, addressed the waiting crowd just over an hour after white smoke signalled his election.
Addressing the masses gathered in St Peter’s Square, he said “the world should set off on a path of love and fraternity”.
He added: “I would like to thank you for your welcome, the community of Rome, its brotherhood, I thank you.”