Monday, October 2, 2017

Francis of Assisi: A gospel way of life

From Thinking Faith-

The figure of Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) has always captured the imaginations of people from all walks of life: Christians and Muslims, royalty and prime ministers, rich and poor, intellectuals and workers, philosophers and theologians, poets and novelists, artists and filmmakers, historians and sociologists, peacemakers and environmentalists, people of all religions or none. Now, for the first time, we have a pope that has chosen the name ‘Francis’.

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis was asked why he had chosen this name. He replied that during the conclave he was seated next to his friend, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes. When it became clear that the cardinals had elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be pope, Cardinal Hummes embraced his friend and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor!’ It was at that moment that the newly-elected Pope thought of St Francis of Assisi who was, he said ‘a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation.’

These were priorities in Francis of Assisi’s life. While he bore witness to the whole gospel, he tended to emphasise those aspects of it that were least understood or practised in his day, some of which continue to be neglected today. If we look at his life, we can see many reasons why his name has been taken by a pope who has said: ‘How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor.’

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