Cardinal Seán Brady, who said Pope Francis would be invited to Ireland, said he believed he would continue the policy of Benedict and John Paul to address clerical child sex abuse in Ireland.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin also welcomed the news and will celebrate Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Francis this Saturday at 6pm in St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin.
Fr Tony Flannery, the silenced founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, hailed the election of what he called “a total outsider” from the developing world.
Rev Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, praised the new pope as a champion of the poor.
“An Argentinian of European parentage, he brings together in his own person the cultures, hopes and spiritual needs of the first world and of the developing world, so much to be valued amidst the complexities and apprehensions of our globalised earth,” he said.
“He has been a champion of the needs of the poor and dispossessed, and, in the simplicity of his own lifestyle, he has sought to reflect the life of the much- loved saint whose name he now carries in the future, St Francis.”
Fr Vincent Twomey, professor emeritus of moral theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, and a former doctoral student of Pope Benedict, said he believed the new pope will be “a great Holy Father”.
He said he was delighted a Latin American has been elected.
“His election will give an inspiration to the Churches in the Americas and will help bring some of the riches of that great continent’s Catholic experience to the rest of the worldwide Catholic Church.
“What Blessed John Paul II did for Poland and Eastern Europe, Pope Francis will probably do for Argentina and the rest of America, north as well as south.”
Caroline Simons, legal adviser to the Pro Life Campaign, said she believed Pope Francis would be a champion for the culture of life and human dignity.
“He has called abortion a death sentence for the unborn, has condemned as hypocrites priests who refuse to baptise the children of single mothers, and spoken out against a culture where the elderly are discarded.
“His namesake, St Francis Xavier was the first Jesuit missionary. His mission — which was to restore Christianity where it was declining and teach it where it was unknown — is as necessary today.”
Petra Conroy, co-ordinator of Catholic Comment Ireland, said she saw in the new pope a man of great humility who was strong on key Church principles and passionate about social justice.
“He is known for his simple lifestyle, cooking his own meals, and using public transport when he can. I was so impressed that as he was presented to the world, he first stood in silent contemplation, then invited all to prayer, in particular for pope emeritus Benedict, and then spoke so warmly, so engagingly to the people.
“His Italian heritage and Argentinian birth are a great sign of the universality of the Church. I think this pope will lead the Church to exciting, invigorating, evangelistic times ahead.”
Bernard Healy, a curate in Tralee, Co Kerry, regarded the choice as a surprise, but said the cardinals had selected a man of evident humility and integrity.
“As a relative outsider in curial terms, it will be interesting to see how he goes about the work of governance in the Church. The fact that his fellow cardinals chose him so quickly as pope suggests that they have huge confidence in his ability to confront the problems of the Church.
“The Holy Spirit is great at surprising us, and I look forward to seeing how he will surprise us through the ministry of Pope Francis. One can’t but help think of St Francis of Assisi who was entrusted with the task of ‘rebuilding’ the Church in the 13th century and of the Jesuit St Francis Xavier, the great evangelising figure of the Jesuit Order in the 16th century.”