Pope reveals what inspired choice of name
Pontiff, who shuns papal limousine in favour of minibus, wants church to be 'for the poor'
The new Pope has revealed how he chose the name Francis as his official title, saying his choice was inspired by St Francis of Assisi and reflected his desire for the Catholic Church to be an institution "of the poor, for the poor".
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, whose surprise election as Pope last Wednesday stunned the world, said the name came to him as he realised that voting was going his way during the conclave – the secretive election in which 115 cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel to choose a successor to Benedict XVI.
The Pope, speaking at an audience in the Vatican for the thousands of journalists from around the world who covered his election, described how it dawned on him that support for his candidacy was reaching "dangerous" levels.
As the cardinals cast their fifth and final vote, it became increasingly clear that he would be asked to become the 265th successor to St Peter.
He was comforted by an old friend, a 78-year-old Brazilian cardinal who was sitting next to him in the frescoed 15th-Century chapel.
"I had next to me the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo, Claudio Hummes, a great friend of mine," he told the journalists, who packed into the Vatican's Paul VI Hall for the encounter.
"When things became a bit dangerous, he comforted me, and when the vote for me reached the two-thirds majority, a moment in which the cardinals started applauding because they had chosen a Pope, he hugged me, he kissed me and he said: 'Don't forget the poor.' That word, the poor, lodged in me here," Francis said, tapping his head.
"It was then that I thought of St Francis. And then I thought of wars and about peace and that's how the name came to me – a man of peace, a poor man . . . and how I would like a church of the poor, for the poor."
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The address was a fresh indication of Francis's determination to make the church more austere and relevant to problems such as poverty and suffering, and confirmed his distaste for the more indulgent trappings of his office.
He has stunned Vatican officials in his first few days as Pope, declining the papal limousine in favour of minibuses, addressing cardinals as his "brothers" rather than "my lord cardinals" and paying his own bill at the clerical residence he stayed in before the conclave.
His informal, modest style has contrasted sharply with the more tradition-bound papacy of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who is living out the first few weeks of his retirement in a castle overlooking a lake in Rome. In other parts of his address to journalists, which was delivered in accented Italian, Francis said that Catholics should remember that Jesus was the centre of the church, not the Pope.
He was given a rapturous reception, with journalists from Italy and other Catholic countries chanting "Viva il Papa" and "Fran-ces-co".