His namesake, Francis of Assisi, is often attributed with coining the famous aphorism: “preach the Gospel, use words if necessary.”
During his first appearance from the loggia overlooking St Peter’s Square Pope Francis gave a living catechises on the centrality of prayer in the life of the faithful.
Before imparting the Urbi et Orbi blessing the Holy Father joined the faithful in praying for pope-emeritus Benedict XVI. He then asked the crowd to pray for him as he begins his journey as Bishop of Rome; a truly humbling moment and a reminder that we all need prayer no matter what our status in life is.
Pope Francis has also shown a particular regard for the poor. Prior to his election he often spoke on issues of social justice and the need to address the growing inequality between rich and poor; a problem which can be acutely felt in his home-country of Argentina and in South America.
As Pope, he spoke of creating a “poor church for the poor” but warned that the church should not become a “compassionate NGO.” He highlighted the need to continue building a church which professes Jesus Christ, rather than worldliness.
During his address to journalists, the Pope urged the media to focus on “truth, goodness and beauty.” His advice is very apt. Scandal sells; tawdry reports and idle gossip seem to be preferable to stories which highlight the “truth, goodness and beauty” which humanity is capable of generating.
He is the Pope of many “firsts”; the first pope to take the name Francis, the first Jesuit and the first Latin American to be elected to the See of Rome. Yet he is also a Pope of continuity; a shepherd who can build on the legacy of his venerable predecessors.
Pope Francis brings a refreshing honesty to a world where leaders seem to prefer scripted pageantry which is only punctuated by occasional media sound-bites.