Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor hails Pope in brief address

The Bishops of England and Wales met Pope Francis after the general audience this morning.

For many of the bishops it was their first encounter with the new Pope, who was elected on March 13.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor gave a brief address on behalf of the bishops. He said the new Pope had inspired Catholics in England and Wales. Pope Francis then greeted each of the bishops in turn.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster told Vatican Radio: “We were privileged to meet Pope Francis this morning and in a few short remarks Cardinal Cormac said to him that these weeks of his pontificate have given a fresh joy and hope to the Church…

“There’s a fresh spring about the Church at the moment and I think that’s from the Pope’s eloquence in gesture and his words when he preaches and at his audiences…

“I think what is most remarkable in the UK is that everybody seems to have been touched by his eloquence, by his gentleness and by the humility of Pope Francis.”

The Bishops of England and Wales are in Rome for a retreat at Villa Palazzola, the Venerable English College’s summer residence 18 miles south of the Italian capital.

On Sunday the bishops concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops.

A spokesman said Cardinal Ouellet’s homily provided a “great spiritual basis” for the bishops’ retreat.

For more photos of the bishops’ meeting with Pope Francis visit the Flickr photostream of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales