Pope Francis: What’s in the Name?

May 16, 2015

One of the most loved Saints in the Catholic world, revered, in fact, by many traditions around the planet, is Saint Francis of Assisi.  In anticipating the Pontiff’s upcoming message on environment and climate change, bear in mind it’s not a small deal that this Pope is the first one in 700 years to take that Saint’s name as his own.

In preparing a new video which will look at the potential influence of the Pope on the climate debate, I’ve been told that significant Republican legislators have been more than a little interested in what Francis will say, and how to respond.

The 8 minute clip above is from Franco Zeffirelli‘s 1972 bio-pic “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”, a dramatization of the saint’s life which captures much of the legendary, ecstatic connection with the natural world that make Francis a favorite among so many.

PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly:

Finally, since Jesus’s time, one of the most revered figures in all Christianity has been Saint Francis of Assisi. For the new pope to have chosen Francis as his new name may say a lot about his priorities.

Saint Francis was born in central Italy in the 12th century. There’s a basilica there where Francis heard Jesus tell him to rebuild his church. The opulence of that church today is just the opposite of the poverty Saint Francis chose. He had been born rich but gave up everything he owned, even his clothes, in order to live as he believed Jesus wanted—in poverty, caring for those Jesus called “the least of these.” Catholics today still cite that standard, referring to “a preferential option for the poor.”

To Francis, every living being was holy and valuable. He once kissed the hands of lepers.

He loved nature and all living creatures. He preached to the birds and spoke of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. In his name many churches today bless the animals.

The Catholic Telegraph:

Pope Francis told thousands of journalists March 16 that he took to heart the words of his friend and chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation,” the same created world “with which we don’t have such a good relationship.”

Giotto - Saint Francis preaching to the Birds

Giotto – Saint Francis preaching to the Birds


Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, the new pope, is breaking historic ground by choosing the name Francis.

It’s the first time the name is being used by a pope, said CNN Vatican expert John Allen.

Pope Francis chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he is a lover of the poor, said Vatican deputy spokesman Thomas Rosica.

“Cardinal Bergoglio had a special place in his heart and his ministry for the poor, for the disenfranchised, for those living on the fringes and facing injustice,” Rosica said.

St. Francis, one of the most venerated figures in the Roman Catholic Church, was known for connecting with fellow Christians, Rosica added.

Allen described the name selection as “the most stunning” choice and “precedent shattering.”

“There are cornerstone figures in Catholicism,” such as St. Francis, Allen said. Figures of such stature as St. Francis of Assisi seem “irrepeatable — that there can be only one Francis,” he added.

Islamic scholar Dr. David Liepert in Huffington Post:

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio‘s decision to choose the name of Francis as pope has profound significance to Muslims regarding Muslim/Christian relations. The Christian Saint Francis of Assisi — for whom he has chosen to be named for the rest of his life — is remembered by Muslims who know their history as a holy man, perhaps the only one (since Jesus) so recognized by Christians and Muslims alike.

In fact, as much as Muslims have saints in the first place, Saint Francis could be considered one of our saints too.

Raised in privilege and renouncing that privilege for the sake of justice, fidelity to God’s revelations and God and God’s creation — to the harsh criticism of friend and family alike — St. Francis’ early life path is achingly close to that of Muhammad. And the events of his later life, particularly his three-week dialogue with Sheikh al-Malik al-Kamel the Sultan of Egypt, had a profound affect on Francis, the Sultan and the Christians and Muslims living then that are still being felt today. That should bring hope to us all.

Surprisingly, little is know about what actually happened when they talked to each other: everything written was written long after the fact, and carries the obvious imprint of whatever philosophical “spin” was popular at the time. However, the influence of that meeting on those two men was both profound and significant, for St. Francis perhaps as significant as his first embrace of the lepers of Assisi that led him to recognize their equality in the eyes of God. Because Francis went to Egypt expecting to find martyrdom, and evil men who needed to be converted to Christians in order to be saved from hell-fire. But he left respectful of Muslims to the point that he encouraged Christians to emulate them in prayer and prostration, and to join Muslms — and others — in service to all despite their different religions, and he specifically told his followers not to try and convert them.

16 Responses to “Pope Francis: What’s in the Name?”

  1. Gingerbaker Says:

    Here in the U.S., the new Pew polling data just out shows that for the first time, those for whom religion plays no role in their lives now outnumber Catholics.

    If life were just, Richard Dawkins’ position on AGW would be more important than that man in the silly dress.

  2. 20.8% of the US population is Catholic, down 3%. Given the spate of child abuse scandals, that’s brand loyalty, IMO.

    Try as they may, religions don’t own ethics. There are many Protestants and Unaffiliateds who are tuning into what this Pope say, and some “conservative” Catholics who are not. Pope Francis will play a significant role in the big showdown.

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    What’s the Muslims’ position on climate change?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      obviously it varies, but stay tuned, I have interviewed a local Imam.

      • In case you happen to interview any Christians on the matter as it relates to an alleged moral Christian imperative to stop climate change, will you ask them this simple question: “So which is the bigger sin, failing to stop a so-called global warming crisis which has increasing credibility problems with its underlying science assessments, or breaking the 9th Commandment in order to be sure skeptic scientists’ criticisms aren’t taken seriously?”

        BTW, I do appreciate that my comments aren’t deleted here, and apparently Peter has so far not found cause to exercise his right on that. DailyKos isn’t doing so well on that, in case any of you have missed that, essentially admitting that their administrators do not trust some of their own registered users to know what is good or not – including me, a registered DailyKos user: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/18/climate-change-free-speech-prohibited-at-dailykos/

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Russell swings by Crock to earn his whore’s dollar.

          You are not deleted here because you serve as an excellent BAD EXAMPLE of the worst of denier humanity, Russell. Just as people watch horror movies and rubberneck at grisly accident scenes, we here at Crock find you and your obsessions-faulty logic-ignorance of science-lack of shame to be fascinating. Just don’t come around too often with your crap, or you may wear out your welcome.

          Glad to see that Daily Kos has deleted you. Here on Crock you are an occasional bad example and source of entertainment, and can be tolerated. On Kos, you are just a crazed and lying POS that gets in the way—-they did the right thing.

        • Russell, your 40 item “How Green I Am” list is admirable. Given your low energy consumption, you should inexpensively purchase renewable energy from your utility company.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          Russell, you’re pure gold. Rock on.

  4. Dan Pangburn Says:

    Mother nature does not do religion…or politics.

  5. John Says:

    Reblogged this on jpratt27.

  6. rayduray Says:

    Op/ed: “Pope Francis and the Art of Joy” by Timothy Egan, NY Times. 2 days ago.



    “…. (H)ow did a 78-year-old man with only one working lung become perhaps the most radiant, powerful and humane figure on the global stage? It’s a paradox, but as much of the world has become less identified with organized religion, the leader of the most organized of religions is more popular than ever.”

  7. j4zonian Says:

    I’m impressed and grateful that the Pope has recognized the direness of our situation.

    The next moves are to invite the leaders of all 3 brother religions, as well as all other major religious leaders, to a conclave to discuss the actions each will take, and all will take together to make climate action their chief priority for the duration of the crisis, and for the Pope to come out as part of that effort, and exhort–command, even–every one of his followers to do everything they can to help civilization survive.

    Of course, all our actions are probably pointless–doomed to fail–unless we radically equalize the world both politically and economically. To that end, the fabulously wealthy Catholic church needs to renounce its wealth the way Francis renounced his. The church needs to lead the way by making sure every person on Earth (starting with the poor) has sufficient pure water, healthy food and clean renewable energy to live a fulfilling, productive life. We’ve had our Francis moment; now we need the shoes of the fisherman.

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