Pope Francis says he wants a 'poor Church for the poor'

VATICAN CITY (AFP, REUTERS) - Pope Francis on Saturday called for "a poor Church for the poor", saying he chose his papal name because St Francis of Assisi was "a man of poverty and a man of peace".

"How I would like a poor Church for the poor!" he said at a meeting with hundreds of journalists from around the world in the Vatican.

Francis described the emotional moments immediately after his election in a secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday. The Argentinian, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, said he had been sitting next to Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo.

"He hugged me and kissed me and told me not to forget the poor, and that word went in here," he said, pointing to his head. "I immediately thought of Francis of Assisi."

"Francis of Assisi for me is a man of poverty, a man of peace, a man who loved and protected creation. Right now our relations with Creation are not going very well," he added.

Since his shock election on Wednesday, the Pope has made clear that he would be introducing a different style to the papacy following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last month.

On the night he was elected, he shunned the papal limousine and travelled on a bus with other cardinals who had elected him. The next day, he returned to the Church-run hotel where he had been staying before the conclave and insisted on paying the bill.

In other parts of his Italian address, much of it unscripted, he said Catholics should remember that Jesus is the centre of the Church and not the pope.

Francis is taking the helm of the 1.2 billion-member Church at a time of crisis over the worldwide sexual abuse scandal as well as scandals involving intrigue and alleged corruption in the Vatican bureaucracy.

He said the Church, like any institution, had "virtues and sins" and urged journalists to focus on "truth, goodness and beauty" in the course of their work.