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Francis the pope

 The founder of the Franciscans, St. Francis of Assisi, came into this world in 1189. St. Francis Xavier, from the Society of Jesus and patron of Catholic Mission, was born in Spain in 1506.

Our new pope—Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina—chose the name Francis after being elected as the 265th successor to St. Peter.

There has been discussion about the choice of name, with reference being made to a simple, friendly man modelling himself on the spirit of Assisi.

However, it has also been pointed out that the name Francis has significance for a man passionate about mission and known for his work in crossing deep divides of opinion that separate people.

The pope later revealed that his chosen name referred to Assisi, a man of poverty himself with a great love for the poor.

Pope Francis was born to a working class family and grew up in simple household built on hard work. As a cardinal, he lived in a modest apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, moved around by bus and cooked his own meals.

It is not hard to believe that he, like the much loved and respected Archbishop Oscar Romero, from San Salvador (1917 to 1980), is deeply committed to the value of each and every human life.

Both have been immersed in the Latin American theological movement which is strongly committed to human life and both have striven for social justice.

Pope Francis is a former teacher with parish experience, as well as having been the superior of the Jesuits in his home country at a time when it was under the rule of a military junta.

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Father Gianni Criveller wrote about his expectations of the new pope in the current context of the Church (see opposite).

“He must be a man of unimpeachable honesty and sincerity, whose actions accord with his conscience, a man bereft of all political or ecclesiastical scheming. The Church needs a simple man who prizes simple truth above clerical prestige.”

St. Francis of Assisi is said to have been called by God to repair a Church in ruins. In his simple way, St. Francis committed himself to repairing the chapel of San Damiano.

Later, he understood that God actually wanted him to restore the universal Church and its sacredness.

In fact, the difficulties that the Church is facing today are no less complex than at the time of St. Francis. Pope Francis is shouldering a great mission. We hope that his leadership will bring a new vision to the Church and a positive energy not only to the Church, but to the whole world.

Success rests in God’s rather than human hands. We must trust in God, as only he can accomplish everything.

After his election, Pope Francis told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, “Let us start this journey, bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which leads all the Churches in charity, a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.”

These words offer a beautiful picture of the universal Church—a Church in communion. SE