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Interviews with a Future Pope

by Gianni Valente

All booklets are published thanks to the generous support of the members of the Catholic Truth Society

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Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The “Ends of the Earth” of Father Bergoglio . . . . . . . . 6 Sacraments and Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Evangelisation and Popular Devotion . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 The International Imperialism of Money . . . . . . . . . . . 40 The Task of the Bishop According to the Future Pope Francis . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Biographical Notes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

All rights reserved. This edition first published 2013 by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, 40-46 Harleyford Road London SE11 5AY Tel: 020 7640 0042 Fax: 020 7640 0046. Copyright © 2013 The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society in this English language edition. Translated from the original Italian Edition by Matthew Sherry. Original Italian edition Francesco. Un papa dalla fine del mondo published by Editrice Missionaria Italiana, belonging to Sermis s.c.r.l, Via di Corticella, 179/4, 40128 Bologna, Italy. © 2013 Editrice Missionaria Italiana. ISBN 978 1 86082 892 8 The interview “Fidelity is always a change” was conducted by Stefania Falasca.

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Introduction This book is a collection of interviews with Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio published in the international magazine 30 Days between 2002 and 2009. They are preceded by an article published in the same magazine with the title The friends of Fr Bergoglio: Poor, priests, and saints in the villas miseria of Buenos Aires, which recounts an ecclesial reality very dear to the current Successor of Peter. I met Cardinal Bergoglio in January of 2002. I had gone to Buenos Aires to report on the economic crisis that had sent into a tailspin the country that until that time had had the most substantial middle class in South America. He told me about that time not with noisy and angry images of the cacerolazos and the demonstrations in the city squares, but with intimate and dignified images of mothers and fathers who had lost their jobs and were weeping at night, while their children were sleeping and no one could see them. Over time I, my family, and some of my friends grew in gratitude for his spiritual fatherhood, experienced as an intimate and always surprising companionship in our lives. In his stories we always perceived simply the encouragement that this pastor of souls drew from the

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miracles that Christ works among his beloved, starting with the poor. These also led to ideas and intuitions that later resulted in articles and interviews: like those dedicated to the initiatives that the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires has fostered in order to make it possible for all to receive Baptism and the other Sacraments. There, in a few words, one can grasp Cardinal Bergoglio’s intimate acquaintance with the very mystery of the Church. In all that he says and does, he repeats just one thing: that the Church lives and works only by virtue of grace. “Jesus,” Cardinal Bergoglio once explained, “did not proselytise: he accompanied. And the conversions that he brought about came precisely from this taking pains to accompany, the very thing that makes us brothers, that makes us sons, rather than members of an NGO or proselytes of a multinational.” This dynamic of closeness and liberation has its objective and enduring expression in the gift of the Sacraments. This requires facilitating in every way possible the Baptism of those - children, teens, adults - who because of various circumstances in life, in the new context of secularisation, have not been baptised; and doing so without adding conditions beyond those stipulated by the Code of Canon Law, namely that it should be the parents who ask for the baptism of underage children. This means letting go of all of the old and new clericalisms that “drive the People of God away from salvation”.

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Now that he has begun his ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, we trust above all that it will be enough to listen to his disarming words and look at his simple gestures to recognise with joy that the Lord loves his Church and takes care of her. Our prayer is that the journey together with Pope Francis may be like a deep and calming breath for the whole Church of Christ, and a good promise for all men of good will. G.V.

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The “Ends of the Earth” of Father Bergoglio “The preferential option for the poor” in action The appointment is for Sunday at noon, in front of Nuestra Señora de Caacupé. “Procession and Mass for healing and liberation,” read the leaflet, which made it even to the shabbiest huts of Villa 21. At the start there are more than two hundred, but many more join as the little procession led by Auxiliary Bishop Óscar Ojea [Aux Bishop of Nuestra Senora de Caacupe] winds through the muddy lanes cluttered with criss-crossed water pipes, dangling electric wires, the shells of burned-out cars. On the feast of St Pantaleon, physician and martyr, which falls in the middle of the Argentine winter, the people ask for protection from the flu, from pneumonia, and from other seasonal illnesses. But not only that. “Everyone should look into his heart and see what is happening there”: this is the invitation Fr José “Pepe” Di Paola extends during the Mass, in the crowded little town square. “We recognise we are all sinners, and that we need the Lord in order to be healed. For those who are sick in body and soul, for those who are worried and suffering over a serious problem....Let us ask our mother, the Virgin of Caacupé, to help us have the health that we need in

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our neighbourhood”. At the end of Mass, the elderly line up to receive the anointing of the sick, so that “the Holy Spirit of forgiveness may heal us and free us from all infirmity....As St James writes, prayer made with faith will heal the sick”. The poet Charles Péguy, perhaps thinking of the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector, writes that when a rich man prays he talks, while the poor man asks for things that he needs: peace in his family and in the world, the healing of a loved one, healing in soul and body. In the villas miseria - the Argentine favelas, halfway between slum and working-class neighbourhood - it is not difficult to get sick. At Villa 21, moreover, there is the Riachuelo, the “disgusting river”, the most polluted in the world, they say - that runs beside it, plaguing the air with its miasmas. Part of the Villa has grown over the mountains of filth from illegal garbage dumping; God only knows what is under there. When every day, several times a day, freight trains cross the tangle of dirt roads without sounding any warning, the walls of the shacks tremble like cardboard and every now and then someone - almost always a child hit while playing in the street - loses his legs. And then there are the other illnesses, the same ones that assail the marginalised masses of so many urban outskirts of the southern hemisphere: children devastated by paco, the drug for the poor made from the residue of cocaine production; the niños de la calle; the drunkards who beat

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their wives; the thousands of lives gone astray; broken families; the bankrupt lives of so many who have given up, including those forced out into the streets by the economic crisis of 2001. There are so many people who need to be healed. But together with all of this there is also an undercurrent of life lived well, a thread of healing that expands over time, in the tangled and tiring days of the villeros. “It was Fr Pepe,” everyone says. They say for example that since Fr Di Paola has been at Caacupé, together with his friends - Fr Facundo, Fr Charly, the Deacon Juan, and all the others - the people no longer kill each other in the streets. The Paraguayans no longer have knife fights with the Bolivians. But if you mention this to him, he immediately dodges you with his resonant and contagious laugh. “We didn’t invent anything,” he says, “we only followed the Guaraní who live in the Villa and the saints they brought from their villages, when they arrived here in the city”. Fr Pepe has also learned from them that one accomplishes little if one is not in harmony with the Virgin and the Saints. And, before him, Fr Daniel de la Sierra had learned this as well. Between revolutions and devotions The popular songs of the barrio, the neighbourhood, sing of him as “el Ángel de la Bicicleta”, the one on which he would die in the early 1990s, hit by a bus. The rudimentary

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murals painted around the Villa depict him with his arms spread wide, as he blocks the way of the bulldozers that are levelling the shacks of the villeros. It was 1978, and the regime had decided to clean up the city ahead of the FIFA World Cup. They called it the plan de erradicación. Fr Daniel, the Claretian priest who built the church of Nuestra Señora de Caacupé in Villa 21, lay down in the middle of their path, his body unmoving as a form of passive resistance to the violence of the excavators. And the other priests of the Villa did the same. These priests were those who already, during the Council, had chosen to move to the shanty towns of Buenos Aires, which were overflowing with immigrants mostly from Paraguay, Bolivia, and the poor provinces of northern Argentina (Tucumán, Santiago del Estero, Jujuy, Salta, Misiones, Corrientes), in order to confess the love of Christ in the midst of the cabecitas negras, sharing in every way the lives of those whom the rest of the city considered bad people, dangerous vagabonds, lowlifes to be avoided. The curas villeros were third-worldists. They went to the Villa to bear witness that Christ is with the poor. They wanted to take part with great generosity in the popular struggles of those years. But when they arrived, and the people realised that they were priests, the requests began: “Hola, padre, tengo dos chicos [to be baptised]”; “When does catechesis begin?”; “Is there Mass next Sunday?” “The surprise,” Fr Jorge Vernazza, one of the pioneers

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who died in 1997, wrote in the book that recounts their history, “was comparable only to our ignorance about the real feelings of the people....Sometimes we talked about seeking an ‘authentic faith’, but we expected this more from the ‘groups of evangelical reflection’ than from the traditional methods of spreading the faith....The reality of the people of the villas, with whom we dealt generously and without prejudice, ended up opening our eyes to the richness of the people’s devotion.” So the curas villeros started to build chapels with unmistakeable names (Santa María Madre del Pueblo in Bajo Flores, Cristo Obrero in Villa de Retiro, Cristo Libertador in Villa 30) for celebrating baptisms, marriages, and funerals, reciting the Rosary, organising processions, while at the same time they were working every day to provide for the material and socio-political needs of the villeros: commissions for water, for sewage and electricity, to bring the villas a minimum of health care, organised resistance to the plans for demolition periodically undertaken by the various military regimes, construction co-operatives, soup kitchens. Some of them did not conceal their explicit political alignment with the Peronist left: in 1972, on the airplane that was bringing Perón back to Argentina for his last ephemeral return to power, there was also Fr Vernazza together with Fr Carlos Mugica, the martyred priest of Villa de Retiro, cut down by the bullets of the paramilitaries

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on 11th May 1974, while he was coming back home after celebrating Mass. But their very immersion in the real life of the villas exposed them to two completely different kinds of misunderstanding. There were some who considered them subversives in cassocks, priests contaminated by Marxist propaganda; on the other hand, the intellectuals of the xenophile left, including those of ecclesial origin, did not hold back their enlightened disdain for villeros so preoccupied with their basic needs as not to find time for insurrection, and for their curates still wrapped up in their Rosaries and Virgins, Masses and confessions. “They think they’re bringing the revolution by making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Luján,” someone quipped, when at the end of the 1970s the curas villeros - at the suggestion of one of the women of the chapel of Bajo Flores - organised the first annual pilgrimage of the villas to the national Marian shrine, thirty miles from the capital. Fr Pepe says, “In those years this was the greatest point of incomprehension between the priests of Buenos Aires and the misunderstood progressivism of some churchmen who perhaps came from Europe with a certain ‘enlightened’ mentality. On the one hand there were those who had seen and followed the faith of the people, their way of living and expressing it. On the other there was the arrogance of those who came from the outside to give lessons.”

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