From the address to the diplomatic corps on Friday, 3/22:
you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of
Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe,
even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the
first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people
there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to
endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every
corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those
who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can
attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves
to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized,
thus striving to make society more humane and more just.
is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time,
which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously.
It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny
of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the
coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my
name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But
there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if
everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively
his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others,
of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on
In other words, moral relativism is itself an assault on human dignity (see, e.g. CCC 1716 ff), because it always in practice leads to the conclusion that one's own wants ought to be served in preference to others' needs; and therefore that the dignity of others is always less than one's own. This is of course the opposite of charity ("the good of the other in preference to one's own good"). It is this diminution of the dignity of others that in turn justifies every vicious form of greed, envy, contempt, infidelity, disobedience, and violence.