Pope Francis wants church that's "poor and for the poor"

Vatican City, Mar 16 (EFE).- Pope Francis told reporters here Saturday why he chose to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, explaining that he wants a church focused on the poor.

"How I'd like a church that is poor and for the poor," the pontiff said, prompting applause from those gathered at his first audience in the Vatican.

He said that upon his election to the papacy this week a close Brazilian friend and colleague - Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo - embraced him and whispered "don't forget the poor."

The 76-year-old Argentine said the word "poor" immediately brought to mind Francis of Assisi, the Italian founder of the Franciscan Order who lived in the 12th and 13th centuries, as well as the scourge of war, and that he knew then that he would name himself after that saint of poverty, peace and defense of creation.

Pope Francis - the first Jesuit and the first Latin American to reach the papacy - then gave his blessing to those present.

"Many of you don't belong to the Catholic Church and others aren't believers but, respecting the conscience of each one of you, I give you my blessing knowing that each of you is a child of God," he said.