The Mass for the inauguration of Pope Francis will be held today, Tuesday, 19 March 2013.
Francis of Assisi is the inspiration for the pope’s name. The pontiff was prompted to take the name after his friend, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, said to him upon his election, “Don’t forget the poor!”
That reminder brought to his mind everything that Francis of Assisi stands for: a man of simplicity and poverty; a man of peace; and a steward of creation. He explained,
That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives this spirit of peace, the poor man.
Pope Francis continued with an indication of his vision of Church: “How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!” A statement filled with possibilities.
These words mark an auspicious start to a papacy from the perspective of Catholic social teaching (CST). The “preferential option for the poor” is a basic tenet of the tradition of CST. A papacy dedicated to working on behalf of and alongside the poor will be encouraging to those who are poor and those who stand with the poor. Pope Francis’s early overtures to the Jewish community and the Evangelical Christian community, among others, are equally encouraging. The personal transformation and the transformation of sinful social structures necessary to alleviate poverty will be more effective when undertaken collaboratively, with all people of good will.
See: “Audience to Representatives of the Communication Media,” Address of the Holy Father Pope Francis, Saturday, 16 March 2013.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor