Pope Francis wants Church to be poor, and for the poor

Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:33pm EDT
 
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By Philip Pullella and Catherine Hornby

VATICAN CITY (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".   Continued...

 
Pope Francis I prays before the replica of the Grotto of Lourdes at the Vatican Gardens in the Vatican March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano