Pope Francis I: It’s All In the Name

“Paddy Power” Dublin’s bookmakers did not even have him listed as one of the favorites.  Jorge Mario Bergoglio , now Pope Francis, is just as much a surprise as was Pope Benedict’s resignation.  It was leaked that during the Conclave that elected Benedict, Cardinal Bergoglio was also  a strong contender.  It is also reported by an  undisclosed  source that he tearfully begged his fellow Cardinals not to elect him.

Much will be said about why Bergoglio was elected.  Some will contend that it was a political move by the Cardinals because 40% of the worlds 1.2 billion Catholics live in South America.  However, it has less to do with demographics or politics than with the personality of the man himself.

Papa Bergoglio’s chosen name of Francis I is revealing of who he is and the kind of papacy that we can expect.  St. Francis is one of the world’s most beloved and famous saints because of his simplicity of life and love of the poor.  He is honored by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  By evoking the name of the poor man of Assisi Pope Francis signals his solidarity with the poor and disenfranchised.  From all reports Bergoglio shunned luxury.  He lived in a small apartment in Buenos Aires, did his own cooking and took public transportation.  He further puts forth the importance of personal spirituality which attracted so many of St. Francis’s followers.

Francis knows that much of the corruption in the church has come from a lack of belief or in the negotiability of its central doctrines.  It is because of this turn to modernism, which judges truth by worldly criteria , that he will reinforce Catholic teaching.  He knows that doctrine and morality go hand in hand.  And, that if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God his Gospel must be obeyed.   From this, he understands  that the church’s moral teaching on social justice and on human sexuality will fall into place.

Francis I is a Jesuit scholar.  He is well acquainted with the world.  He knows the power of evil.  In his own country of Argentina he was all too familiar with corruption and even death squads to eliminate government opponents.  He knows that in Latin America and in the rest of the developing world that the Kingdom of God is not brought about by force but by love.  During his pontificate he will encourage Christians to take their faith more seriously.  He will preach by his own example and humility.

Many were expecting that a younger man would have been elected.  Francis is 76.  However, there is no doubt that the vigor sought by the Cardinals was not the strength of youth, but the power that comes from sanctity.  It is only this supernatural strength that can stem the tide of secularism.  This is a lesson that the church learned from the Middle Ages when reforming Religious Orders, like the Franciscans and Dominicans, as well as reform minded popes saved the church from heresy, immorality, and spiritual  lethargy among the clergy and laity.

Like St. Francis, this Pope’s attributes have the ability to not only reunite and invigorate a divided Church, but also to fulfill the vision of the Second Vatican Council to reunite Christians.

Fr. Michael P. Orsi


Chaplain and Research Fellow at Ave Maria Law. Father Michael P. Orsi was ordained for the Diocese of Camden in 1976 and has a broad background in teaching and educational administration. Fr. Orsi has authored or co-authored four books and over 300 articles in more than 45 journals, magazines and newspapers. He has served as Assistant Chancellor, Assistant Vicar for Pastoral Services, Director of Family Life Bureau, and Coordinator of Pope John Paul II’s visit to New Jersey for the Diocese of Camden. He has also served as a member of The Institute for Genomic Research at the University of Pennsylvania and as a member of New Jersey’s Advisory Council on AIDS. Fr. Orsi holds a Doctorate in Education from Fordham University, two Master degrees in Theology from Saint Charles Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts from Cathedral College. He is presently serving as Chaplain and Research Fellow in Law and Religion at Ave Maria School of Law, Naples, Florida. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. In 2005 Fr. Orsi was appointed as a Senior Research Associate to the Linacre Center for Bioethics, London, England. Fr. Orsi co-hosts a weekly radio program The Advocate which discusses law and culture on WDEO-AM 990, WMAX-AM 1440 in metro Detroit and WDEO-FM 98.5 in southwest Florida [also linked at www.avemarialaw.edu].

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  • vito

    it’s good that this Pope is modest, not greedy, cares about the poor has progressive economic views, a reasonable stance on contraception and nothing to do with traditionalists. It’s bad that he did not try to stand up against tyrants in his country, but then we know this is not what the Catholic Church likes to do.

  • Rick and Eileen Aaron

    Reasonable stance on contraception? The Church, and the Church alone has been there for nearly 2000 years. If you need physical proof of her wisdom on this topic I recommend checking out the large & growing medical research on NFP and contraception (the WHO is a good starting point). You can also look to the divorce rates, STDs, and abortions brought on by contraception.
    Regarding standing up against tyrants & “not what the Catholic Church likes to do”. Again I suggest looking to the Church’s history of holding up martyrs as our heros. If you refer to WWII, I recommend you study the writings of that time and those who lived it vice uncritically following a few revisionist modern writers.

  • John

    I’m afraid your information about Cardinal Bergoglio not standing up to tyrants is gravely mistaken. He was certainly prudent, but worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes, as many testify, in defense of human rights. He spoke against abuses by the government and the guerillas. He is a man of humility, sanctity and courage. How blessed we are!

  • Max Effort

    Choosing the name of “Francis” is very revealing.
    Just as St. Francis of Assisi was given a mandate from Jesus, speaking to him from the San Damiano cross, to rebuild the church, Pope Francis has undertaken the same task: to rebuild the church.

  • Javier

    With the advent of JPII’s and Pope Benedict’s call to the New Evangilzation, why is no one giving credit to the Pope for having selected Francis as his name also after Saint Francis Xavier, the great student of Society of Jesus founder St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuit’s most renown evangelizing missionary?

  • RoodAwakening

    Javier, according to Cardinal Dolan, our new pope made his choice clear when choosing his papal name–St. Francis of Assisi. He is the FIRST St. Francis, after all. All of the other St. Francises, including Xavier, served God and His people after he did, so we could say they’re ALL named after St. Francis of Assisi.

  • I’ve been hearing a call to head back to the Catholic Church which is strange since I AM one hurt by it. However, this Pope brings me a new found childlike Hope. And, when there is Hope, there are always Angels nearby. God Bless him and all who have been hurt by the choices of others. May we finally come together to see what can be done to move FoRe!ward. ~MD http://www.FoReBeyondtheGreen.com

  • Erin Pascal

    Thank you for sharing this very informative post! Considering Pope Francis’ life before he became Pope and the situation that the Church is in now, you can really say that all of the things that need to be done is seen in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi–the name that our new Pope has chosen. For me, it brings hope.