Newly elected Pope Francis has called for “a poor Church for the poor” during his first audience with the media. He is set to be officially inaugurated as pope on Tuesday.
At a meeting with hundreds of journalists from around the world Saturday, Pope Francis called for “a poor Church for the poor.”
Francis described the emotional moments immediately after his election Wednesday in the secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel.
The Argentine, formerly 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," he said, pointing to his head.
"I immediately thought of Francis of Assisi," he said.
Despite holding a speech in his hands he spoke mostly off the cuff, making jokes and smiling throughout.
In his Italian address he also said that Catholics should remember that Jesus is the center of the Church and not the pope.
He said the Church, like any institution, had "virtues and sins" and urged journalists to focus on "truth, goodness and beauty" in their work.
On Sunday, Francis will deliver his first Angelus blessing. Then, on Tuesday, he will be officially inaugurated as pope in Saint Peter's Square, an event that is expected to be attended by numerous world leaders.
Francis to meet Benedict
Meanwhile, the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will visit his predecessor Benedict XVI on March 23 for the first time since his election.
Francis will travel by helicopter to the papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo where Benedict, 85, has been staying since his historic resignation last month. The two men will have lunch together at the residence, the Vatican said.
Last month, Benedict became the first pope to resign in 700 years, saying he no longer had the strength to lead the church.
In the 2005 papal election, Bergoglio, 76, is believed to have been runner-up to Benedict.
Francis - the first non-European pontiff in more than 1,200 years - is known for his image as a simple man of the people. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he lived in a modest apartment rather than the official residence, and took buses to work.
hc/slk (Reuters, AFP, AP)