Pope Francis will face ‘hundreds of challenges’, according to Ilford priest

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Squar

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

As white smoke rose from the Vatican and crowds gathered to witness Cardinal Bergoglio announced as Pope Francis, the Recorder spoke to Catholic priests in Redbridge to find out their thoughts on the “pope of the people”.

The first leader of the Catholic Church from the Americas will face “hundreds of challenges” on taking on his new role, according to Fr Andrew Headon,

Fr Headon of SS. Peter and Paul, High Road, Ilford, said: “I was overjoyed that Pope Francis was chosen, it will be a breath of fresh air for the Catholic Church. Instead of just teaching the gospel, he is living it.

“His simple life will speak to everyone as well as his informal manner, which was seen when he spoke to the crowd.”

He added: “He will have hundreds of challenges and he must have the strength of character which he has shown in Argentina, to lead himself rather listen to the people that surround him.”

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Fr Paul Bruxby, of St Augustine’s of Canterbury, Loudoun Avenue, Barkingside, said: “I think he is an excellent choice as he will be a pope of the people.

“From his first address, he had a different style and even the way he dressed was more like a bishop than a pope.”

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The election of Pope Francis was “historic”, according to Rev Francis Coveney, of St Anne Line Catholic Church, Grove Crescent, South Woodford.

He said: “He appears to be a highly intelligent man from humble beginning and I think the way he conducts himself in a simple manner will be popular with followers.

“I think he will seek to rid the church of corruption and one of the challenges he must face is disciplining bad clerics.

“I think previous popes have sometimes been too gentle with bishops who have failed to discipline priests who have committed wicked crimes.”

Fr Coveney added: “It must be very difficult for a bishop as Christians are called to forgive. But the weak and the innocent must always be protected.”

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