03/13/2013 20:18 EDT | Updated 05/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Election of new Pope greeted warmly by Toronto Catholics

Toronto's Catholic leadership — as well as the congregations — has reacted positively to the election of Pope Francis I.

In a statement on its website the Archdiocese of Toronto said it welcomed the new pope. The Catholic community "extend[s] its sincere congratulations to the new pope chosen to lead our universal Church ..."

"We are also grateful for the careful discernment of the College of Cardinals and in particular the participation of Cardinal Collins and the Canadian Cardinals in the election of Pope Francis I," the statement said.

The Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto William McGrattan said the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires came "as a great surprise." But he added, "I'm told ... he is quite warm, engaging and friendly."

Premier Kathleen Wynne also released a statement on Wednesday calling the election an "historic" event.

"It is truly historic to see the name of a South American Cardinal emerge from the papal conclave. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection reflects the changing landscape of our time."

In the churches, some of the archdiocese's 1.8 million Catholics, were happy with the news.

One woman said she felt "great joy and happiness" with the election of a new church leader.

Another called it "a gift from God."