Pope Francis calls for 'a poor Church for the poor' and reveals St Francis of Assisi as namesake

The new pontiff  lauds the saint as a 'man who loves and looks after what has been created'
  • @James_Legge

In an early nod to both climate change and global wealth inequality, the newly-elected Pope Francis has revealed he named himself after St Francis of Assisi.

The Pope, who until recently was known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, addressed journalists in the Vatican today.

He said that he named himself after the 12th-13th Century son of an aristocrat who forsook riches to live in poverty as a preacher and guardian of nature.

Francis, who ascended to the papacy after Benedict XVI became the first to abdicate the position in 600 years, said St Francis "loved and looked after" creation, noting that humans were "not having a good relationship with nature at the moment".

The 76-year-old, the son of a railway worker, also called for "a poor Church for the poor," and revealed that his "great friend" the Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes hugged and kissed him upon his election and said: "Don't forget the poor."

"Then I immediately thought of Francis of Assisi," he said.

"As the scrutiny was going on and all the votes were being counted, I thought of peace.

"And that's why this name entered my heart, Francis of Assisi. For me he's the man that represents poverty, peace. The man who loves and looks after what has been created.

"A poor man. I'd like a poor church for the poor."

Francis already has a reputation for humility, exhorting the faithful in his Argentine homeland not to come to his official inauguration next Tuesday but to save the money and give it to the poor instead.

And after his election to one of the highest offices on earth, he settled his own hotel bill, turned down the offer to be driven in the papal Mercedes and opted to take a minibus with the cardinals to the Vatican conclave residence.