After he was elected pope on Wednesday, Jorge Mario Bergogli, former archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, chose the name Francis. There may be nothing in a name, but the 76-year-old priest obviously wanted to be identified with another Francis who had lived on this planet some 800 years ago.
Yesterday, during his meeting with media people, he confirmed that he took his name from St. Francis of Assisi who, in mediaeval Europe, abandoned his father's wealth to live a life of poverty and simplicity just like Jesus Christ himself.
Pope Francis comes into his new office prepared to lead by example. The way forward for the church, he preached in his first Mass as pope, is for all disciples of Christ to find courage to walk in God's presence.
"When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross, and when we confess without the cross, we are not disciples of Christ. We are mundane," the supreme pontiff said. Just a day after his election, he betrayed his humility by refusing to take a special car and paying his own hotel bill.
We are glad to learn that the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics has a reputation for being a conservative just like his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. No radical changes should therefore be expected in the church founded by Christ himself - except a return to true Christianity.
All those canvassing ordination of women priests, gay marriage or abolishment of celibacy for Catholic priests should look elsewhere. God's laws do not change. Science and technology can never change the rules set by our Maker. All the troubles in the world today are the result of man's disobedience to the word of God.
The revelation that the new pope is a lover and helper of the poor and the sick is comforting for all true Christians. In recent years, especially, many preachers have distorted the original teachings of Christ by emphasising material wealth. "My God is not a poor God" has been chorused in several churches where poor worshippers are expected to raise funds for doubtful causes. Is it any wonder, then, that evil has been multiplying at the same rate as places of worship in our country today?
The path of Pope Francis is studded with firsts: first Jesuit pope, first non-European pope, first Latin American pope. We hope he will score another first during his papacy. Since his election, the world has been celebrating "a humble champion of the poor".
May the Holy Father point true Christians to the right way back to God. His exemplary life shows that, no matter the travails facing the world today, it is still possible to lead a life of love, sacrifice and obedience. That should be the vocation of all priests, but we are happier that the leader of the oldest Christian church could be easily identified with it.