Vatican City (AsiaNews) - He chose the name of Saint Francis of Assisi to "remember the poor" and because "Francis was a man of peace," Pope Francis said today during a meeting in the Paul VI Hall with the 6,000 and more journalists. On his name, he said with a sigh, "How much I would like to have a poor Church for the poor."
Breaking perhaps the conclave's rule of secrecy, Pope Francis said, "Some did not know why the bishop of Rome wanted the name Francis. Some thought it might refer to Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales and Francis of Assisi. Let me tell you the story."
"During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo and Prefect Emeritus of the Clergy, Card Cláudio Hummes, a really close friend. When things got a bit dangerous, he comforted me. When the votes reached two thirds, the Cardinals began to applaud because a pope had been elected. Card Hummes hugged me and said, 'Don't forget the poor!' That struck me," he said pointing at his head.
"The poor, the poor! As I thought about them, I immediately thought about Saint Francis of Assisi, about war, whilst the vote counting went on, until all ballots were counted. Francis was a man of peace, a man who loved and protected creation. In our times, our relationship to Creation is not that good, right? He was the man who gave us a spirit of peace, a poor man ... How much I would like to see a poor Church for the poor."
Jokingly, the pope noted that some cardinals suggested he choose the name "Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was reformer," or "Clement to get back at Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1773." In the end, he chose the name of Francis.
With many journalists present in Rome for Benedict XVI's resignation and the election of the new pope, the pontiff surprised everyone by acknowledging their work: "You have been busy" these days, "very busy." Addressing them, he said that "to focus on the events of these days," it is important to have an "interpretative horizon", a certain "hermeneutics".
"Church events are certainly not more complicated than political and economic ones," Pope Francis explained. "They have however a special feature: their nature is not the same as other, more mundane ones. For this reason, it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a vast and varied public. Although a human institution based in history with all that that entails, the Church is not political in nature; it is essentially spiritual. It is the People of God, the Holy People of God walking to meet with Jesus Christ. Only if we start from this perspective can we fully understand what the Church does."
"Christ is the Pastor of the Church, but his presence in history comes through human freedom. One man is chosen to serve as his Vicar, Successor to the Apostle Peter, but Christ is the centre, the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without Him, Peter and the Church would not exist and would not have any reason to exist. As Benedict XVI said repeatedly, Christ is present and guides his Church. Whatever happens, the main actor is ultimately the Holy Spirit. He inspired Benedict XVI's decision for the good of the Church. He directed the cardinals in prayer and the election."
In thanking the journalists "for the hard work of these especially demanding days," the Holy Father urged them "to learn more about the real nature of the Church and the spiritual motivations that guide it, that are the truest bases to understand it."
"Like many others, your profession requires study, sensitivity and experience," he added, "but it requires particular attention to truth, goodness and beauty, and this brings us particularly close together, because the Church exists in order to communicate precisely that: Truth, Goodness and Beauty."
As he prepared to say goodbye to all those present and their families, the pope put aside his notes and broke with the custom to end the audience with the traditional blessing.
After warmly saying goodbye to a group of journalists, he ended saying in Spanish, "I told you that I would happily give you my blessing. But many of you are not Catholic; others do not believe. Sincerely, I give you this blessing, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of everyone, knowing that each one of you is a child of God. God bless you."