So we’ve got a new pope, and he’s got a new name—but what exactly does the moniker mean? It’s a salute to St. Francis of Assisi.
For a Jesuit pope, the choice is a nod to the Franciscans, often seen as Jesuit rivals. As a Jesuit, Jorge Bergoglio’s choice of the name says he wants to be “the people’s pope, a pope who cares about the poor, who wants to have solidarity with the people of the world,” a theology expert says
It also could suggest his hope to rebuild a church in disrepair, says another expert: St. Francis was said to have heard a command to rebuild a chapel that was falling apart. He was known as an opponent of greed, having given up material wealth. The name “clearly gestures that the Roman Catholic Church not only serves the poor, the Roman Catholic Church is the church of the poor.
However, the name could also align with St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits, NBC 4 reports. That Francis was an early missionary, traveling to India to spread his faith. “Every guy that takes vows as a Jesuit commits himself really to that understanding of being a missionary, whether he’s teaching in a high school or whether he’s serving in the foreign missions,” says a Jesuit leader.
What about the lack of a number: Should Francis be Francis I? Turns out John Paul I was apparently the only pope to use a “I, and that was a personal decision. Francis will be numberless.
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