Pope Francis has said he wants “a poor Church, for the poor”, giving his clearest indication yet that he wants a more austere Catholic Church.
He made his comments in an audience with journalists on Saturday, explaining why he chose to take the name Francis, after St Francis of Assisi, a symbol of peace, austerity and poverty.
Francis described the emotional moments immediately after his election in a secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday.
The Argentinian, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, said he had been sitting next to Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo.
“He hugged me and kissed me and told me not to forget the poor. And that word went in here,” Francis said, pointing to his head.
“I immediately thought of Francis of Assisi.
“Francis of Assisi for me is a man of poverty, a man of peace, a man who loved and protected creation. Right now our relations with Creation are not going very well,” he said.
“How I would like a poor Church, and for the poor,” Francis said.
Since his election on Wednesday, Francis has made clear that he would be introducing a different style to the papacy following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last month.
On the night he was elected he shunned the papal limousine and travelled on a bus with other cardinals who had elected him.
The next day he returned to the Church-run hotel where he had been staying before the conclave and insisted on paying the bill.
In other parts of his Italian address, much of it unscripted, Francis said that Catholics should remember that Jesus is
the centre of the Church and not the pope.
He is taking the helm of the 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church at a time of crisis over the worldwide sexual abuse scandal as well as scandals involving intrigue and alleged corruption in the Vatican bureaucracy.
He said the Church, like any institution, had “virtues and sins” and urged journalists to focus on “truth, goodness and
beauty” in the course of their work.