At different times Pope Francis has spoken of why he chose the name Francis. His words and lifestyle options are a challenge to the whole Church. In particular, Franciscans experience themselves challenged to live more generously the charism they profess!
The Jesuit Pope with the Franciscan heart is calling us to to fidelity to our vocation.
Speaking to the world media two days after his election Pope Francis said:
“Francis of Assisi: For me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who love and safeguards Creation. In this moment when our relationship with Creation is not so good—right?—He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor!”
A week later, in his talk to the Diplomatic Corps, Pope Francis further elaborated on his choice of the name.
“As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith.
One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure!
After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalised, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.
But there is another form of poverty!
It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples.
And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace.
But there is no true peace without truth!
There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.”
Hearing the Pope speak of the beauty and importance of Francis’ Gospel vision, Franciscans throughout the world repeat the words of their holy Founder: “Let us begin again, for up to now we have done little or nothing!”
The then Cardinal Bergoglio washes and kisses the feet of a drug addict.