Newspaper review: Press react to new Pope Francis


The first non-European leader of the Catholic Church for 1,300 years is pictured on most front pages, waving to the thousands of people gathered in St Peter's Square.

"Pope Francis the humble" is the main headline in the Daily Telegraph, which says he appeared "as surprised as anyone" by his election. The paper describes him as the "antithesis of Vatican pomp", highlighting that he is "a man known for catching the bus and eschewing the luxuries of high office".

For the Independent, he's an "inspired and original choice" and a signal that "change has come" to the Catholic Church.

The Sun says that when Pope Benedict announced it was time for a younger man, "few imagined his replacement would be 76", but the paper reckons Francis has "energy and charisma".

The Guardian welcomes an "extraordinary leap" from the conservatism of the last two papacies, and a "decisive shift in the church's centre of gravity". The Daily Mail asks simply whether he can "clean up his troubled Church?"

The Times believes the new leader of the Catholic Church gives "every indication of inspiring admiration, even devotion, as well as respect". But it goes on to add that the Argentine is "not untainted by controversy".

The Sun reports, bluntly, that "Pope Francis wants Britain to hand back the Falklands". The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires has said previously that the islands were "usurped" by Britain, and in 2010 he insisted the Falklands "are ours".

Several papers also report that he's been accused of complicity in the kidnapping of two liberal Jesuit priests by Argentina's military junta, during the so-called dirty war. He has denied the allegations, and insists he helped many dissidents during the dictatorship.

Drinks cabinet

The Mail says Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to be "warmly congratulated" for imposing a ban on gagging orders used to silence whistle-blowers in the NHS. The paper wonders "how many who died in squalor and misery might have been saved", if insiders had been free to alert the press and public earlier.

The paper believes the principle that "transparency is the best disinfectant" should now be applied to every public service. It says that, in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, there's been a "campaign of intimidation against the public's right to know".

Downing Street is "at war" with Home Secretary Theresa May, according to the Guardian. It says the Tory high command has turned its fire on her for positioning herself ahead of a possible leadership contest.

Senior Conservatives are particularly unhappy about a speech she made last weekend, which is said to have shown that questions about David Cameron's future were being asked in the cabinet.

Unnamed party sources are scathing about Mrs May's supporters, branding them a "bunch of amateurs" who see TV's The Thick of It as a "training video".

The government's apparent rejection of plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in England and Wales receives a warm welcome in certain quarters.

The Daily Express describes its as "good news", and the Telegraph says the cabinet ministers who killed the idea before it got further than the consultation stage have done David Cameron a favour.

But the Guardian believes the episode has inflicted "real damage" on the prime minister, by exposing that "what he says in public no longer automatically goes".

Prison visit

The conflict in Syria has created a "new wave of British jihadists", according to the Independent. It says more than 100 British Muslims are believed to have joined the uprising against President Assad.

The situation is said to present a unique problem for Western security and intelligence services. In Syria, unlike places such as Pakistan and Somalia, the jihadists are being backed by Britain and its allies.

Finally, the partner of the former Liberal Democrat cabinet minister, Chris Huhne, is widely pictured emerging from Wandsworth Prison after paying him a visit.

Carina Trimingham spent two-and-a-half hours with Huhne, who is serving an eight-month sentence for getting his then-wife to take speeding points on his behalf in 2003.

Unfortunately for Miss Trimingham, she now has her own motoring penalty to deal with - a £110 fine for parking outside the jail in a bay marked "permit holders only". The Daily Mirror's advice to her is: "Best just pay the ticket."

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