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Pope Francis calls for 'poor Church for the poor' at debut audience

In his first audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis called for the Roman Catholic Church to dedicate itself to the world's poor.

Pope francis poor 16 03 2013Enlarge
Pope Francis arrives for a private audience to members of the media on March 16, 2013 at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Pope Francis called for "a poor Church for the poor", saying he chose his papal name because St Francis of Assisi was "a man of poverty and a man of peace". (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Giving his debut audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis has said he wants "a poor Church, for the poor."

The new pontiff called for the Catholic Church to remember that its mission is "spiritual not political," and to ensure that Jesus Christ, not the pope, is at the center of its work.

The papal name that Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose is a symbol of his vision for the Church, he explained: St Francis of Assisi is "the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects others," the pope said.

"Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor," he told reporters today.

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Reuters called the pope's comments "his clearest indication yet that he wants a more austere Catholic Church." 

In the three days since he was elected, Francis has declined the use of the papal limousine reserved for him, insisted on settling his bills at the hotel where he was lodging, and urged his fellow Argentines not to make the pilgrimage to Rome to see him but donate their money to charity instead.

The tone he has struck is a marked departure from that of his predecessor. Unlike the more formal Benedict XVI, Francis "talks in simple, easy to understand terms about ethical values and shows a remarkable sense of humor," said BBC Vatican correspondent David Willey.

Francis is yet to make any more concrete changes, however: the Vatican said today that all of its senior administrators will remain in their posts for the time being, since the pope wants to give himself "a certain amount of time for reflection, prayer and dialogue before any [new] appointments or definitive confirmations."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/world-religion/130316/pope-francis-poor-church-for-the-poor