Close to the Fourth Sunday in Lent in 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope on the 13th March and took the name, Pope Francis. A name which sat well with this man whose compassion for the poor has no bounds.
In the midst of this Season of Lent, as Caritas, our Church’s agency encourages Project Compassion and puts before us those people who have been identified as needing significant support and, in light of the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, let us revisit an excerpt from his address to the members of the media three days later:
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!