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Pope Francis reveals why he chose his name

By on Saturday, 16 March 2013

Pope Francis (Photo: AP)

Pope Francis (Photo: AP)

Pope Francis revealed why he had chosen his name at an audience with journalists this morning.

Departing from his prepared speech, he said that some people were still uncertain if his name referred to St Francis Xavier or St Francis de Sales or St Francis of Assisi.

He said that he was seated next to his friend, the Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, during the conclave. “When the matter became dangerous,” he said, “he comforted me.”

When it became clear the cardinals had elected him Pope, he said, Cardinal Hummes “embraced me and kissed me and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor’… and that struck me… the poor…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 was when he chose the name Francis, he explained, adding: “How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor.”

He laughed as he recalled that someone suggested he should have taken the name Clement XV to get even with Clement XIV, who suppressed the Jesuits in 1773.

Here is the text of Pope Francis’s address:

Dear Friends,

At the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter, I am pleased to meet all of you who have worked here in Rome throughout this intense period which began with the unexpected announcement made by my venerable Predecessor Benedict XVI on 11 February last. To each of you I offer a cordial greeting.

The role of the mass media has expanded immensely in these years, so much so that they are an essential means of informing the world about the events of contemporary history. I would like, then, to thank you in a special way for the professional coverage which you provided during these days – you really worked, didn’t you? – when the eyes of the whole world, and not just those of Catholics, were turned to the Eternal City and particularly to this place which has as its heart the tomb of Saint Peter. Over the past few weeks, you have had to provide information about the Holy See and about the Church, her rituals and traditions, her faith and above all the role of the Pope and his ministry.

I am particularly grateful to those who viewed and presented these events of the Church’s history in a way which was sensitive to the right context in which they need to be read, namely that of faith. Historical events almost always demand a nuanced interpretation which at times can also take into account the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly no more intricate than political or economic events! But they do have one particular underlying feature: they follow a pattern which does not readily correspond to the “worldly” categories which we are accustomed to use, and so it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wider and more varied public. The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church’s life and activity.

Christ is the Church’s Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Yet Christ remains the centre, not the Successor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist. As Benedict XVI frequently reminded us, Christ is present in Church and guides her. In everything that has occurred, the principal agent has been, in the final analysis, the Holy Spirit. He prompted the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church; he guided the Cardinals in prayer and in the election.

It is important, dear friends, to take into due account this way of looking at things, this hermeneutic, in order to bring into proper focus what really happened in these days.

All of this leads me to thank you once more for your work in these particularly demanding days, but also to ask you to try to understand more fully the true nature of the Church, as well as her journey in this world, with her virtues and her sins, and to know the spiritual concerns which guide her and are the most genuine way to understand her. Be assured that the Church, for her part, highly esteems your important work. At your disposal you have the means to hear and to give voice to people’s expectations and demands, and to provide for an analysis and interpretation of current events. Your work calls for careful preparation, sensitivity and experience, like so many other professions, but it also demands a particular concern for what is true, good and beautiful. This is something which we have in common, since the Church exists to communicate precisely this: Truth, Goodness and Beauty “in person”. It should be apparent that all of us are called not to communicate ourselves, but this existential triad made up of truth, beauty and goodness.

Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor! Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” And someone else said to me: “No, no: your name should be Clement”. “But why?” “Clement XV: thus you pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!” These were jokes. I love all of you very much, I thank you for everything you have done. I pray that your work will always be serene and fruitful, and that you will come to know ever better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the rich reality of the Church’s life. I commend you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and with cordial good wishes for you and your families, each of your families. I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you.

I told you I was cordially imparting my blessing. Since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I cordially give this blessing silently, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each, but in the knowledge that each of you is a child of God. May God bless you!

  • jae

    All Catholics are Traditionalists. God save us from these “traditionalists” who think of themselves as popes and councils, another Protestant Reformation in disguise of being “orthodox”.

  • jae

    All faithful catholics are Traditionalists, don’t hijack the word to refer to a few bunch of rebellious group who have preference to Tridentine Rite.

  • jae

    So in other words you could read minds and hearts? Of The Holy Father too? Your post though with some elements of Truth however, very judgmental, legalistic and Pharisaical.

    “This Pope is infected by the usual Vatican II New theology”, total rubbish.

    “The Church is, by the way, NOT for the poor”, Read Matthew 25-31-46 for your complete rebuttal.

  • jae

    What are you referring to when you said the New Mass? Is it the Pauline Mass (Novus Ordo) if so, what’s wrong with that?

  • jae

    SSPX should have accepted the generous offer of Personal Prelature by Pope Benedict XVI. Accepting to be regularized and from within the SSPX could make further discussion on disagreements and continue to help fix the ills of the Church.

    Such a waste of golden opportunity.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    I’ll take my own interpretation of that story with a pinch of salt, thanks.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    I agree, parasum.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    I agree — I far preferred “scary”

  • Benedict Carter

    The preferential option for the poor is marxism Jae. The Church has a sole preferential option, which is for SINNERS. And that means everybody. I am a Catholic, not a marxist. What are you?

  • Benedict Carter

    “Charity” is a proof of my faith and makes it a real faith that sanctifies my soul. Merely adhering to a SECULAR notion that the Church must “prefer” the poor is rubbish, it’s not Christianity.

  • Benedict Carter

    As all too often, you miss the point entirely. Hummes is talking about changing it all AGAIN. This is Marxian “permanent revolution”; haven’t you grasped YET that this is what these people are about?

  • Benedict Carter

    Read about who are his friends and what is his (atrocious) record in Argentina. Then post. If only you would not post from a basis of total ignorance.

  • AlanP

    You are obviously a conspiracy theorist. There is no way Obama could influence the conclave. This pope was (reportedly) runner-up last time, when Dubya was president.

  • Peter

    Christianity is dying in the western Europe because the merciful work of the Church for the poor, the homeless, the sick and the ignorant has been taken over by the state, to the extent that poverty, sickness and ignorance are no longer at the forefront.

    The Church has lost her role in Europe, she has lost her radical message , and that is why young people who are attracted by radicalism are not coming forward.

    The Church in Europe needs to recover that same sense of urgency, that same radicalism, that she had in the past, but this time not towards European society but outwards towards the wider suffering world.

    In doing so, not only will she help the suffering Church in the developing world, but she will also invigorate herself within Europe and more and more young people become attracted to her radical message.

  • Peter

    At the end of the day the onus is not on an individual Pope to change the Church by caring for the poor, but on each and every one of us, its members. The Pope simply leads the way, but we must follow with actions, as you say, and not words.

  • Jon Brownridge

    Sorry, I didn’t research this personally, but one of the commentaries had said Francis was the first Religious in over a thousand years. Obviously they were wrong. But my main point was that secular clergy do not make Religious Vows.

  • jae

    There are two things to consider AND NOT jump into conclusions and rash judgment typical of “traditionalists”:

    1. Are the so called evidences credible or just bias-fabrication-gross exaggeration.

    2. Catholic Faith is MORE than the Liturgy, that is the reason why at the end of each Mass, the Church bids us, “The Mass has ended, GO to Love and Serve the Lord.”

  • jae

    Who is adhering to the secular notion? Nobody, but you are greatly mistaken to separate the poor and the “preferential option” of the Church. All Sinners ARE POOR! Either be poor spiritually or materially but the latter (literally poor) could be both. And in the Scripture God is more intimately close to those who are deprived and materially poor. That is the Authentic Catholic Teaching, Benedict.

  • scary goat

    Ok, guys, I’ll change it back. When I figure out how. You can still call me “scary” and I’ve got a nice goat pic now anyway. I’m starting to feel a little bit more scary again…give me a few days :-D

  • jae

    I’m not a marxist just following what Christ taught. “Traditionalists” are again in a habit of separating the poor and sinners, thus the latter as preferential option of the Church. Do you know that ALL sinners are poor? Could be spiritually or materially deprived? But the materially deprived- the literal poor as we speak, are both, they have been double-whammed! That was the reason why in the Old Testament and Christ had said that God is ALWAYS close to the poor-those who are materially deprived.

    If you consider that as marxist then count Christ, St. Francis of Assissi and me in.

  • jae

    So Benedict how do you exegete Matthew 25:31-41? Are all sinners in jail, naked, thirsty and hungry?

  • scary goat

    I thought the best thing that ever happened to the Church in a long time was Benedict XVI.

  • scary goat

    Jae, I can’t answer your first question, but I can have a go at the second. Yes, you are correct…..but it is the Mass which feeds the Catholic people so that they can go to minister to the world. The Traditionalists are not saying otherwise….what they are saying is if the Liturgy is not inspirational how can it inspire? Faith and works……not works alone. There is a difference between humanitarianism for it’s own sake and humanitarianism for the sake of God.

  • scary goat

    Well, yes, I would agree that economically the west needs to be less greedy and selfish…..but suffering isn’t only economic and the west has it’s share of suffering too. Of course we should feed the physically hungry food….but we shouldn’t forget to feed the other suffering what they need too.

  • jae

    Thanks Scary, though i didn’t have time to elaborate the importance of the Liturgy as the highest form of prayer, unity and communion of the Church, (summit of faith-Eucharist) there is also no denying that Faith without Works is DEAD. (James 2:14-24).

    The Eucharist is rendered meningless and sometimes even fatal to one’s being if received unworthily and absence of works (love) as taught by St. Paul in the Scripture.

    “And though if I have ALL faith so as to move mountains, but without love,(works) I’am nothing”. 1 Cor 13:2

  • jae

    Just let’s see what will happen. Anyways, the Pope and the Church has the freedom and authority to reform the Liturgy not the Substance and Essence. Tridentine Rite had undergone numerous reforms under different Pontiffs to the one we have now (1962 Missal.)

  • Jon Brownridge

    In fact most priests are not Religious. They are secular clergy.

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    reveal more because we do not know that part of the world well and its daily religious activities

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    but also please reveal in even handed/balanced and neutral way…what he did good and what he did bad. so far all your posts telling the negative side. does not aevery person have a good side and a bad side?

  • scary goat

    Indeed, Jae, faith without works is dead, but my point is works without faith are a bit pointless too. The traditionalists, in complaining about the liturgy are NOT excluding works. What they are complaining about is an emphasis on works as if the Church is the UN or something. Liturgy first….then works proceed from that.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    I would need very good evidence to believe this.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    Orthodoxy includes obedience to the Holy See and to Ecumenical Councils.

  • jae

    Hello Scary, I agree with you however, nobody here not even the Pontiff is forgetting about the Liturgy. Every single day our good Pope is celebrating the Holy Mass with love though some people think it’s just a show-off.

  • vito

    I am beginning to like this liberal Pope

  • vito

    Oh but you can. I see the poor helping poor more than I see the rich helping the poor. The rich, in most cases, try to help the rich. No where in the Bible does Jesus say that you need money to help others. And in many places he shows his contempt of riches and warns the rich of near impossibility of entering heaven. Poverty (or any suffering) does not have to be artificially sought, but in most cases it is a natural result of serving God and not the Mammon. Wealth is in most cases the result of serving the latter.

  • IslamaJinn

    Jesuit order is the one of persecuted the God’s commandment keeper during dark ages when bible was forbidden by the Vatican church. the prophesy is fast fulfilling. History repeat itself.

  • justin

    long live the pope

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