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Friar’s E-Spirations: A Pope Who Mirrors the Values of St. Francis

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires became Pope Francis on March 13, thus becoming the first pope of the Americas! During the process of his election, Pope Francis said, “I had the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo next to me, Cardinal Hummus, OFM, a dear, dear friend.” The pope went on to say that “when the votes reached two-thirds, there was the usual applause because the pope had been elected.

“It was then that Cardinal Hummus hugged me and said, ‘Do not forget the poor.’ Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor! And that word stuck here [tapping the forehead]. And so the name came to my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and safeguards creation.

“In this moment when our relationship with creation is not so good . . . he is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man.”

In the Footsteps of St. Francis

For those who knew Cardinal Bergoglio, the new pope’s choice of the name Francis was not a surprise. After all, the cardinal was known for his care and love for the poor in Buenos Aires. Everyone knew that he preferred to live in a simple apartment—not in the bishop’s estate. He cooked his own meals and took the bus to work, chatting with ordinary people.

In the current issue of St. Anthony Messenger—in a cover story about Pope Francis by Assistant Editor Christopher Heffron—the pope speaks of his fondness for St. Francis of Assisi. He adds, moreover, that he “would like to ask . . . all men and women of goodwill to be protectors of creation, of each other . . . and of the environment.”

Rebuilding Today’s Church

St. Anthony Messenger’s story also points out that the new pope believes he is called to mirror St. Francis in another way: just as the poor man of Assisi was chosen by God to repair a broken Church, so Pope Francis sees himself and each one of us called to the same mission.

A Blessing for Franciscan Media

Pope Francis has brought wonderful affirmation to the Franciscan way of life all around the world by choosing St. Francis of Assisi as his model and guide. For example, St. Anthony Messenger is only one of many publications that we publish here in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our company is known in the United States and beyond as Franciscan Media.

We try to spread the spirit of St. Francis far and wide, not only through the publication of our national magazine, but through our books on faith and spirituality, as well as by widely circulated newsletters such as Catholic Update, which is distributed in many parishes in the United States and Canada.

Dear Friar Jim: It was a timely reminder that we, too, have to spend our life/lives on earth as Jesus would want us to. He is at our side to help us on our journey, we just have to listen to his voice and to take his hand. Patty

A: Dear Patty: You are right. In doing good anytime and anywhere, no matter small it may appear, the Lord is right beside, smiling. Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: Thanks so much for your reflection, “Jesus’ Brief Time in Ministry.” Your reminder that we do not walk alone in life’s journey is so comforting, knowing that God is ever present each and every moment. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize that God cares so very much, especially when I feel tired and worn out by life. Thanks, too, for reminding me that whatever humble talent I have can be turned into a powerhouse by God. This has truly inspired me to step it up with renewed hope and love my work with all its ordinariness. Liz

A: Dear Liz: Just think: you, plus God, can do more good that you can imagine. How can we measure a single act of love? Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: Thank you so much for your wise reflection about Jesus’ time in ministry. So often I feel like my contributions are meager—my talents small. You reminded me that, in God’s eyes, we are all capable of amazing talents. Lyle

A: Dear Lyle: Thanks! No question that, if we were on our own, things would be different. But in faith, knowing the Lord is with us, things are indeed different—magnificently so. Friar Jim