Christians for Equal Marriage UK has welcomed the election of Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina as the new head of the Roman Catholic Church.

In a statement, Nathan Hartley, founder of Christians for Equal Marriage UK said: “The new Pope is well known in Argentina for his humility and passion for social justice. He has spoken out against governments and authorities who marginalise those often on the edge of society, and will bring a welcomed fresh perspective to the leadership of the church.”

Mr Hartley continued: “Known to be relatively conservative on the issues of homosexuality and equal marriage we shall be hoping that Pope Francis prayerfully considers the church’s views on these issues.”

He added: “To truly preach a social gospel all people, irrespective of their gender or sexuality, should be included and valued.”

Pope Francis, who was elected by cardinals in Rome on Wednesday, has previously described same-sex marriage as the work of the devil and a “destructive attack on God’s plan.” He has also said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.

Commenting on the arrival of the new Pope, Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall said: “We hope Pope Francis shows more Christian love and charity to the world’s 420 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people than his predecessor.”