Pope Francis wants Church to be poor and to serve the poor

Pope Francis I passes a Swiss Guard as he leaves the Paul VI hall after an audience for members of the media, at the Vatican Credit: Reuters
Pope Francis I passes a Swiss Guard as he leaves the Paul VI hall after an audience for members of the media, at the Vatican
Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis, giving his clearest indication yet that he wants a more austere Catholic Church, said on Saturday that it should be poor and remember that its mission is to serve the poor.

Francis, speaking mostly off-the-cuff and smiling often, made his comments in an audience for journalists where he explained why he chose to take the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, a symbol of peace, austerity and poverty.

He called Francis “the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man”, and added: “Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor.”

Since his election on Wednesday as the first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years, Francis has signaled a sharp change of style from his predecessor, Benedict, and has laid out a clear moral path for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.

He thanked the thousands of journalists who had covered his election but invited them to “always try to better understand the true nature of the Church, and even its journey in the world, with its virtues and with its sins”.

He urged journalists to seek “truth, goodness and beauty” in the world and in the Church.

Francis has set a forceful moral tone and given clear signs already that he will bring a new broom to the crisis-hit papacy, favoring humility and simplicity over pomp and grandeur.

He recalled how on Wednesday night, as he was receiving more and more votes in the conclave, the cardinal sitting next to him, Claudio Hummes of Brazil, comforted him “as the situation became dangerous”.

After the voting reached the two-thirds majority that elected him, applause broke out. Hummes, 78, then hugged and kissed him and told him “Don’t forget the poor”, the pope recounted, often gesturing with his hands.

“That word entered here,” he added, pointing to his head.

While the formal voting continued, the pope recalled: “I thought of wars …. and Francis (of Assisi) is the man of peace, and that is how the name entered my heart, Francis of Assisi, for me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects others.”

It was the latest indication that the pope wanted the worldwide Church to take on an austere style.

On the night he was elected he shunned the papal limousine and travelled on a bus with other cardinals. He went to the Church-run hotel where he had been staying before the conclave and insisted on paying the bill.

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, has also urged Argentines not to make costly trips to Rome to see him but to give the money to the poor instead.

RESPECT NATURE

St. Francis of Assisi, who died in 1226, renounced his family’s fortune for a life of charity and poverty and is also revered by environmentalists because he loved nature and preached to animals.

“Right now, we don’t have a very good relation with creation,” the pope said.

He said that Catholics should remember that Jesus, not the pope, was the centre of the Church. At the end of his address, switching from Italian into Spanish, he also made a gesture to non-believers and members of other religions.

“I told you I would willingly give you a blessing. Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God. May God bless all of you,” he said.

CONTRAST WITH BENEDICT

The Vatican has strongly denied accusations by some critics in Argentina that Francis stayed silent during systematic human rights abuses by the former military dictatorship in his home country.

Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters on Friday that the accusations “must be clearly and firmly denied”.

Critics of Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, allege he failed to protect priests who challenged the dictatorship earlier in his career, during the 1976-1983 “dirty war”, and that he has said too little about the complicity of the Church during military rule.

The new pope’s outgoing nature and sense of humor differs notably from the much more formal Benedict, who last month became the first pope in 600 years to resign.

On Friday, Francis hugged cardinals, slapped them on the back, broke into animated laughter and blessed religious objects one cardinal pulled out of a plastic shopping bag.

The Vatican said Francis would visit Benedict on March 23 at the papal summer residence south of Rome where the former pontiff will live until he moves into a convent in the Vatican which is undergoing renovations.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…