“How beautiful would be a church of the poor”

The pope called and everyone came © DR

Still unfamiliar: Bishop Ganswein and Pope Francis © DR

Pope Francis continues his busy schedule: on Saturday morning, the new pontiff from Argentina met with hundreds of representatives of the international press in an audience.

In the packed Paolo VI auditorium. He received a wave of sympathy when he greeted the journalists and thanked them for their work. Media have become indispensable in telling the world what is happening, Francis explained. "You have worked a lot these days," he added with a mischievous laugh, referring to the exciting election of the pope. Applause broke out several times. Then the pope chatted out of the closet about the conclave.

"Think of the poor," his "good friend," Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, had told him while the votes were still being counted at the conclave. That's what stuck in his mind, Bergoglio said, tapping his forehead. In the context of the poor, he immediately came up with Francis as a man of the poor and of peace, who loves and protects creation, said the new pope, who is from Argentina: "How beautiful would be a church of the poor". People today would not have a good relationship with creation.

Several conclave participants had suggested Clement as the pope's name, since it stood for reform. Other cardinals recalled Hadrian, as such a pope temporarily dissolved the Jesuit order. With his ironic remarks, the 76-year-old pontiff, himself a member of the Jesuit order, earned laughter and applause from the journalists in attendance. The new pope had opened the audience for media representatives by saying, "Dear friends, I warmly greet each of you."

At the end, he gave the media representatives a blessing, equally to all, he stressed: whether Catholic or not, believer or non-believer. However, questions from media representatives to the pope were not scheduled at the audience.

Huge crowd at audience

There was a huge crowd at the audience. In bright sunshine but rather cool temperatures, journalists waited in a long line for admission before the meeting began. Tens of thousands are also expected to attend the first Angelus prayer Francis will offer (tomorrow) Sunday. Tens of thousands of believers are also expected to gather in St. Peter's Square for the occasion – as they will next Tuesday, when Francis will be officially inaugurated in the so-called "Coronation Mass". Delegations from around 100 countries are expected to attend the solemn ceremony, at which the new pontiff will also receive his insignia. First state guests have already arrived. The city of Rome anticipates hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the Vatican announced that the much-anticipated meeting between Francis and his predecessor emeritus, Benedict XVI. should take place next Saturday. Earlier, Italian media had reported that Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio would join Joseph Ratzinger for lunch at Castel Gandolfo near Rome. For this purpose, Francis will fly for the first time by helicopter to the summer residence of the popes.

Benedict is expected to stay in Castel Gandolfo until about May, when he will move to a monastery in the Vatican. He was on 28. February as the first pope of modern times resigned. The historic meeting of two popes is also therefore eagerly awaited in Rome.

Zollitsch: Pope stands for new beginning in the church

Berlin Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki expects social justice ies to dominate Francis' term in office. As a Latin American, the new pope is very much influenced by ies of social justice and the fight against poverty, the cardinal told the "Passauer Neue Presse" (Saturday edition). Whether Francis will address the abolition of celibacy or even marriage for same-sex couples is an open question.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg hopes for an invigorating new beginning in the Catholic Church through Pope Francis. In a pastoral letter on the election of the new head of the Catholic Church, which will be read at all services in the Archdiocese of Freiburg on Sunday, Zollitsch emphasized that by choosing the name Francis, the new pope was placing his term of office under the special intercession of Francis of Assisi and thus under that of one of the best-known and most impressive saints.

Zollitsch says that to find the path the church should take into the future, it needs "a reconnection with God, time for silence and prayer". Pope Francis made this clear right at the beginning, he said. In his pastoral letter, Zollitsch points out that the new pope will not be able to fulfill all the many expectations placed on him. Zollitsch, who is president of the German Bishops' Conference, expressly calls on Christians to accept an invitation extended by Pope Francis in his first address, and quotes the corresponding statement of the new Church leader: "Let us walk the path together, the path of brotherhood, of love, of mutual trust! And let us always pray for one another; let us pray for the whole world, so that a good togetherness may develop!"

The president of the World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee, Brazilian Lutheran pastor Walter Altmann, assesses Francis' election as a "turning point for Christianity". Global Christianity has shifted radically southward in recent decades, and the election of an Argentine cardinal as pope reflects this new reality, Altmann said. "I expect that his term can be marked by intense and deep ecumenical dialogue and cooperation," the theologian said.

According to WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, Francis gained an understanding of ecumenical dialogue through a three-month study visit to Germany in 1985. "Every theologian who spends any length of time in Germany experiences the coexistence and side-by-side of Catholics and Protestants as hardly in any other country," Tveit told the Evangelical Press Service.

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