Pope turns on charm in first meeting with press


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 - Page 1

Pope Francis offered intimate insights yesterday into the moments after his papal election, telling an audience with the press that he was immediately inspired to take the name of St Francis of Assisi because of his work for peace and the poor — and was embraced by another cardinal amid applause inside the conclave.

“Let me tell you a story,” Francis said in a break from his prepared text during a special gathering for thousands of journalists, media workers and guests.

Francis then described how was comforted by his friend Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes as it appeared the voting was going his way and it seemed “a bit dangerous” that he would reach the two-thirds necessary to be elected.

“He hugged me. He kissed me. He said don’t forget about the poor,” Francis said. “And that’s how in my heart came the name Francis of Assisi,” who devoted his life to the poor, missionary outreach and caring for God’s creation.

He said some people have asked why he took the name, since it also could suggest references to other figures, including the co-founder of the pope’s Jesuit order, Francis Xavier. However, he said the intention came to his heart as an inspiration immediately after the election.

St Francis of Assisi was “the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation — and in this moment, we don’t have such a great relationship with the creator,” the pope said. “The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man who wanted a poor church.”