The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 13, 2013

New pope is 1st Francis, saint of peace, poverty

— VATICAN CITY (AP) — In choosing a name no other pope had ever taken, Pope Francis could be signaling that he sees the need for change in the Roman Catholic church.

The name recalls two of the church's most famous saints.

One is Francis of Assisi, the man from the Umbrian hill town who renounced a wealthy, dissolute lifestyle to found the Franciscan order of friars in 1209, embracing a life of poverty and simplicity and going out in the countryside to preach a message of joy and peace.

The other is Francis Xavier, a globe-trotting Spaniard who became one of Christianity's greatest missionaries, and was a founding figure of the Jesuit order, of which the new pope is a member.

Pope Francis didn't cite either of those famous men when he made his first public speech as pontiff on Wednesday night, but within an hour of his presentation to the world from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, his choice of name was being hailed as heralding what could be his priorities — and perhaps style — at the helm of a troubled church.

Umbria's bishops sent congratulations in a message noting that the new pope had taken up name of the saint of Assisi, one of Italy's patron saints who in his time sought to "renew the church."

"It was precisely Francis the Lord asked to repair his church in ruins," the bishops said.

Pope Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, had explained his resignation last month — the first pontiff to step down in 600 years — by saying he didn't have the mental or physical stamina to shepherd the church, rocked by scandals and confidential leaks in the Vatican's bureaucracy and losing many faithful to secularism or more dynamic forms of worship.

Text Only
State and Nation
Poll

What is your favorite Easter candy?

Chocolate bunnies
Marshmallow chicks
Chocolate eggs with filling
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee