The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has offered his "warmest welcome" to the former Cardinal Bergoglio on his election as Pope Francis.
Speaking on behalf of the Church of England, part of the 77 million worldwide Anglican Communion, the Archbishop wrote to the Vatican of the new leader of the 1.2 billion Catholic Church: "We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world."
The message from Lambeth Palace continued: “[This] election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere, not least among Anglicans. We have long since recognised—and often reaffirmed—that our churches hold a special place for one another. I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to 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.
“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 Catholic Church dwarfs Anglicanism at a global level. Rome does not officially recognise the priestly orders of any Church of England clerics, though it has received into its own membership a small number of Anglican priests who opposed the ordination of women.
* More on Pope Francis from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/PopeFrancis