Column: Honor Pope Francis by remembering the poor

Bill Scholl is the archdiocesan consultant for social justice. You can email him at: socialjustice@archkck.org.
Bill Scholl is the archdiocesan consultant for social justice. You can email him at: socialjustice@archkck.org.

by Bill Scholl

When asked why he chose the name Francis, our new pope shared this story:

“Some people wanted to know why the bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the archbishop emeritus of São Paolo and prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two-thirds, there was the usual applause, because the pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor!’ And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man. . . . How I would like a church which is poor and for the poor!

This is social justice in a nutshell, isn’t it? We don’t forget the poor, and in doing so, we work for peace, each according to our gifts. We work in our station in life: in our families, in our parishes, in our archdiocese, to bring this about, with the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, and Jesus — and we look to the saints and our Holy Father to help show us the way.

This is simple and requires us to listen to that voice: “Don’t forget the poor!”

Buy some peanut butter and tuna fish for a Catholic Charities food pantry. Summer will be upon us in no time, and hungry children will be out of school and needing protein.

Buy a warm weather baby outfit and some diapers for a new baby at Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic. Make a meal to be taken to the Willa Gill Food Kitchen or volunteer to serve it — most parishes have a recipe in the bulletin and a day of the month they’re scheduled.

Buy a copy of your favorite devotional book to be donated to a new convert in prison. Take a widow out to Sunday brunch after Mass.

Do one thing this month to remember the poor among us.

Leave a Reply