Pope Francis wants Church that is ‘poor and for the poor’
Leader explains how he chose the name Francis in a lively audience with the media
Newly elected Pope Francis speaks as he holds his first audience with journalists and media inside the Paul VI hall today. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The Pope told over 4,500 members of the media and their families this morning how he chose the name Francis on his election last Wednesday evening. He was speaking during a lively, good humoured audience at the Vatican ’s Paul VI hall,the lobby of which has been used as a media centre over recent day.
“You’ve been busy [these past few days],” he said to much laughter.
In one of many asides he recalled how during the conclave he sat next to the former Archbishop of Sao Paolo Cardinal Claudio Hummes “a great friend, a great friend.”
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He continued “when the thing became ‘dangerous’, (his vote was increasing)” he said Cardinal Hummes “comforted me, and when the votes reached the two thirds level, there was the expected applause, because the Pope had been elected – and he embraced me, and kissed me, and said to me: ‘do not forget about the poor....and that struck me…the poor…”
He continued “immediately I thought of St Francis of Assisi… Francis was a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation.” That, said Pope Francis, is how the name came to mind. “How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor,” he said.
Other cardinals then suggested he might take the name Adrian after Pope Adrian IV (who died in 1159) who was a noted church reformer. Others said he should take the the name Clement to get back at Clement XIV who suppressed the Jesuits in 1773, which drew more laughter from his audience.
He spoke of how the role of mass media continues to grow and how it was indispensible for telling the stories of contemporary society. He also commented on the complexity of recounting historical events like the election of a pope and of how important it is to present such an event in the light of Faith.
“The Church,” he said, “does not respond to an earthly logic” and can be difficult to communicate effectively because “the nature of the Church is spiritual, not political”. It was the only perspective in which the work of the Church could be presented, he said
“Christ is the centre, not the successor of Peter… Christ is the reference point at the heart of the Church, without Him, Peter and the Church would not exist,” he said.
The protagonist of all these events was is the Holy Spirit. “It was he who inspired the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church. It was he who inspired the choice of the cardinals,” he said. It is important to keep that in mind, he said, as people tried to interpret the events of the past few days.
Pope Francis then reflected on what he described as “the trinity of communication: truth, goodness and beauty”. He continued, “we are not called to communiate ourselves, but this trinity…the Church exists to communicate truth, goodness and beauty”.
He then imparted his apostolic blessing, in silence. He did this out of respect for the fact that “not everyone present belongs to the Catholic faith and others do not believe. I respect the conscience of each one of you knowing that each one of you is a child of God. May God bless you,” he concluded.
Yesterday Pope Francis visited the Pius XI clinic in Rome where Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Church, is being cared for following a heart attack. It was an unannounced visit with staff and patients surprised to see the new Pope.
He was greeted warmly with a lengthy round of applause.