Pope Francis has said he wants a poor Church that works for the poor, three days after his election as head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was on Wednesday night elected in the fifth round of voting in the Conclave. While meeting journalists at the Vatican on Saturday, the new Pontiff said he chose the name Francis after 12th Century saint Francis of Assisi, who represented “poverty and peace”.
He urged journalists to get to know the Church with its “virtues and sins” and to share its focus on “truth, goodness and beauty”.
Pope Francis takes over from Benedict XVI, who abdicated last month citing ill-health and diminished energy.
The 76 year old leader was the surprise choice of cardinals meeting in Rome to choose a new head of the Church, as he was never mentioned among the favourites. He becomes the first pontiff from South America and the first outside Europe in more than 1000 years.
He told journalists he had been inspired to take the papal name Francis by a Brazilian colleague who embraced him and whispered “don’t forget the poor” when it was announced that he had been elected Pope. He said he immediately thought of St Francis of Assisi, saying the Italian founder of the Franciscan Order had represented “poverty and peace”.