I commented to my wife the other day that it seemed clear that Pope Francis would be especially attentive to Catholic social teaching, presenting it in a compelling way both in his words as well as his living. That’s an exciting thing. (And I loved Mark Shea’s great way of noting it, as I blogged yesterday.)
Now these comments he made at his meeting with members of the media today:
Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [OFM]: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. 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 us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!
I think that what we have here is an apostle of Catholic social teaching.
[UPDATE: You’ll want to check out this post, with my attached article on Pope Francis and Catholic social teaching, here.]