'How I would like a church that is poor, and for the poor'

'How I would like a church that is poor, and for the poor'


   Journalists greeting Pope Francis today at the Vatican

Pope Francis held his first meeting with the press today, and impressed them with what has become characteristic low-key charm.

Addressing several thousand journalists in the Vatican audience hall, he set his prepared text aside and told the story about how he chose his papal name.

As the vote moved increasingly toward the “dangerous” two-thirds majority, he said, he received encouragement from his old friend, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who sat next to him in the Sistine Chapel.

When he went over the two-thirds mark of 77 votes, Cardinal Hummes hugged him, kissed him and said simply, “Don’t forget the poor.”

Those first words to the new pope have remained on his mind, Pope Francis said. Looking out at the journalists, the new pope declared with emphasis: “Ah, how I would like a church that is poor, and for the poor.”

As the ballot-counting continued in the Sistine, he said, he thought of St. Francis as the saint of the poor, as the man of goodness and peace, as a man who “loved and protected creation,” the same created world that modern society has a hard time protecting.

And so he chose Saint Francis of Assisi as his new namesake. He added that other names were suggested to him – Adrian, after a famous reforming pope, for example. He said someone even jokingly suggested taking the name Pope Clement XV, to get even with Pope Clement XIV, who suppressed the Jesuit order in the 1800s. (Pope Francis is a Jesuit.)

He had a couple of other thoughts for journalists, too. Reporting on the church is different from other contemporary matters, he said, because the church is essentially a spiritual organization that does “not fit into worldly categories.”

“The church does not have a political nature,” he said. That, too, was pronounced deliberately – no doubt the pope read all about the presumed political jockeying in the Italian newspapers during the run-up to the conclave.

He urged reporters to remember what he called a “trinity of communication” in their work: truth, goodness and beauty.

The pope’s blessing to journalists was unusual, to say the least. Saying that he realized there were non-Catholics and non-believers present in the hall, he would “give this blessing in silence, from my heart, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each person, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.”

Then, instead of the usual formal blessing – standard practice at papal audiences – he said quietly, “God bless you,” and walked off the stage.

That left some immensely pleased at the pope’s sensitivity, and others complaining loudly: “What kind of a blessing was that?”

Well, it was the kind of blessing Pope Francis wanted to give. And more and more, I’m getting the impression that this is a man who is not simply “getting used to being pope,” but who is coming into the office with clear, and very different, ideas.

As a postscript, when Pope Francis walked out of the audience hall, the papal limousine was waiting for him. But the pope waved it off and kept walking, happy to go by foot to his Vatican residence a short distance away.


23 comments (Add your own)

1. Frank Denver wrote:
Bravo for Pope Francis.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 8:23 AM

2. Betty Sweeney wrote:
Am I simply an old and sentimental Catholic as tears were brought to my eyes when Pope Francis said "ah how I would like a church that is poor and for the pooer"?!? -have always hoped for simplicity, humility and love of Christ to be more properly lived in, and depicted from, Rome

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 8:33 AM

3. Thrift Store Mama wrote:
I am ever hopeful for this Pope and for our church. A baptized Catholic, yet unchurched friend of mine has been so moved by his choosing of the name Francis and of the other stories about him of simplicity and humility. I can see her heart softening - Pope Francis is clearly already at work !

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 8:49 AM

4. Mark wrote:
Sigh. Someone is going to have to explain to me how being ostentatiously "different" is "humble." Humility is submitting oneself to the office.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 9:15 AM

5. curt wrote:
I pray for wisdom in leadership with Pope Francis. May he be guided by his chosen name sake and guide the church out of the dark times we have seen. May he protect the faithful ,especially children, and those most vulnerable. I wish him all that he will need to be a good and caring leader and bring hope to those that have been turned away or lost and hurt by the actions of clergy.

I wish for tolerance and understanding in all things and hope that all will be welcome again .

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 9:32 AM

6. Kathe wrote:
Amen. A breath of fresh air has come our way. May God's compassion, wisdom, and love guide Pope Francis in leading the church and healing our factions. We need to be one body of Christ.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 9:42 AM

7. wrote:
If Francis keeps walking, he'll live longer. Walking is an exercise most septuagenarians can do, and all it costs is a pair of good shoes. Walk on, Francis!

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

8. Clare Teresa wrote:
No matter what we say about the politicking and jockeying for power in the Curia, we have to give it to the Cardinals - and the Holy Spirit - that they had the courage to pick a reformer.
In general, I have also been impressed by the press. Some, however, have been happy to drag up past accusations concerning the dirty war. The best rebuttal has come from none other than the New York Times.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 10:18 AM

9. Jim wrote:
I am humbled, and very grateful for our "Holy Father", Pope Francis.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 10:25 AM

10. Douglas G. Tompkins wrote:
I think that this is a fortuitous selection for the Roman Catholic Church and perhaps for all of us. (Written by an Episcopalian )

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 10:42 AM

11. anthony ignatius wrote:
Very refreshing change! It promises to be an exciting papacy.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 10:46 AM

12. Donna wrote:
Just Beautiful thank you for posting this!

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 11:41 AM

13. RM Smith wrote:
This sounds like the Pope the Church needs. One who will waive off the trapping and power of the position and minister to all.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 11:56 AM

14. Jen wrote:
Beautiful.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 12:07 PM

15. Leonor Fernandez wrote:
I am very much moved by the Pope's humility and simplicity. He has his own authentic way of evangelizing us in a quiet yet stunning way. God bless you, Pope Francis!

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 1:30 PM

16. Elia Cuomo wrote:
Let's pray that time doesn't change him and that his sensitivity to others' beliefs will continue and his love for the poor will continue to grow. May God bless him.

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 1:48 PM

17. Elizabeth Weggesser wrote:
Very Pleased with Pope Francis....He is certainly going to SURPRIZE everyone ...including the Media...Lol....He certainly is showing He is Trusting in God and walking the walk and living the Faith...May Jesus continuously ANNOINT Pope Francis with His healing Grace and Always keep him healthy in mind, body and soul...By the power of His Holy Name...Amen

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 1:51 PM

18. PJ Joseph wrote:
I think we have a Pope now, who seems to have the charm of JPII and the scholarship of BXVI...though I was a bit perplexed when he said 'hermeneutic' today... But What I liked most was his spontaneous articulation: Christ is the center, not the sucessor of Peter'...!

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 4:22 PM

19. Ann wrote:
Pray for me holy father

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 4:54 PM

20. Vicky Chen wrote:
Everyday I am inspired more and more by the word and action of Pope Francis. Thank you for posting this!

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 5:33 PM

21. LITTLE GIRL wrote:
WOW I think Pope Francis the first is amazing I can wait to see what changes he makes to the Catholic Church

Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 10:57 PM

22. Paul Ben wrote:
Reading your piece, why do I feel that there will be a lot of fake during his papacy? And I mean trying to fake it as a "model of St. Francis?" etc, among other things. I wish a Pope will be a Pope, just be himself without this fake "change"...It's a Hollywood world. The media, the cameras, the Internet, etc. are watching and some love to "put up a show" to quote you from your book. Enough of that crap, we've seen "hope and change" from Obama and how he and his party are throwing America down the drain! I miss Pope Benedict XVI already!

Sun, March 17, 2013 @ 2:51 AM

23. Paul Ben wrote:
>>>The pope’s blessing to journalists was unusual, to say the least. Saying that he realized there were non-Catholics and non-believers present in the hall, he would “give this blessing in silence, from my heart, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each person, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.”

Then, instead of the usual formal blessing – standard practice at papal audiences – he said quietly, “God bless you,” and walked off the stage.

That left some immensely pleased at the pope’s sensitivity, and others complaining loudly: “What kind of a blessing was that?”<<<

I say, what kind of "pope" and papacy is this already? Now we're getting a taste of it. Are we going to have a 'politically correct' pope? Will somebody remind him that Jesus was not. And that those who deny Jesus, in any way, shape or form, or are being ashamed or reluctant or shy or afraid to mention Jesus and/or God the Father and the Holy Spirit loudly, publicly to all people regardless of their beliefs doesn't worth to be a Christian. If you deny Him, he will deny you. The pope needs to read the Bible. But I guess in this politically correct world we're living in, sensitivity, appearances, looks, shallowness and the opinion of others, i.e. of creatures matter more than core beliefs, principles, religion and the Creator!

Sun, March 17, 2013 @ 4:32 AM

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