Had he been elected Pope in the 2005 Conclave, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio would have taken the name John XXIV. He is reported to have told the late Francesco Cardinal Marchisano, “John, I would have called myself John, like the Good Pope; I would have been completely inspired by him". Of course, he finished second in that conclave and would go on to succeed the man who beat him in that election when Benedict XVI abdicated in 2013. It was after his election in that conclave that Bergoglio, upon the admonition of Claudio Cardinal Hummes to not “forget the poor,” chose the never before used regnal name of Francis.
Despite his taking of the name Francis, it would appear that the Holy Father is more than “completely inspired” Pope John XXIII. A number of actions taken by Pope Francis indicate that he identifies with and seeks to carry on the work of John XXIII. Chief among these is, of course, his canonization of John XXIII, which occurred, along with that of John Paul II, on April 27, 2014. From the time that cries of “Santo Subito” rang out in St. Peter’s Square immediately following his death in 2005, the canonization of John Paul II, has been all but a foregone conclusion. What was far more surprising was the announcement that John XXIII would be canonized along with him.
John XXIII was beatified by the pope with whom he would be canonized on June 3, 2000. John Paul II beatified Pope Pius IX on the same day. Even at the time, this was considered unusual. It was theorized that the beatification of Pius IX was a political move, “to balance out” the beatification of a pope who even at that time was seen as an icon of progressivism with that of a noted reactionary pontiff. Ironically, some of the ideas condemned in Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors would enter the thinking of the Church following the Council that John XXIII convened.
Then, in 2014 it was announced that Pope Francis would canonize John XXIII on the same as the pope who canonized him. There was already more than a little controversy over the canonization of John Paul II for, among others reasons, coming less than a decade after his death (although St. Francis of Assisi was canonized less than two years after his death, for example). John Paul II at least had the requisite miracles attributed to his intercession. John XXIII did not, yet Francis saw fit to raise him to the altars nevertheless. This is certainly within papal prerogative, but the entire current canonization process was instituted to prevent dubious canonizations (such as that of the emperor Charlemagne by antipope Paschal III 1165, which was annulled in 1179).
A less reported, but nevertheless, crucial announcement that came within months of the election of Francis and gives some insight into why he chose to canonize John XXIII. On the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 2013, it was announced that Pope Francis had ordered that the name of St. Joseph be added to every Eucharistic Prayer. The explanation that was usually offered was that because his papal inauguration was on March 19, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Pope Francis had a special devotion to Saint Joseph and wished to ensure that he was probably honored.
However, St. Joseph has not always been commemorated in the Roman Canon. On November 13, 1962, Pope John XXIII added St. Joseph to the Roman Canon. At that time, of course, the Roman Canon was the only option for a “Eucharistic Prayer.” After Vatican II, three more Eucharistic Prayers were added, but none of them commemorated St. Joseph (or any other saint besides the Blessed Virgin Mary). Thus, in a way, the addition of the commemoration of St. Joseph to the other Eucharistic Prayers is emblematic of the desire of Pope Francis to visibly carry on in the tradition of John XXIII.