AFP / File / TIZIANA FABI
The Archbishop of Buenos Aires was almost an unknown when he was elected on March 13, 2013, becoming the first pope to choose the name Francis – a homage to St. Francis of Assisi, who dedicated his life to the poor
A squall of fresh air with a distinct Latin American feel tore through the Vatican on the Pope Francis election, a passionate Argentina whose defenses of the downtrodden has stirred hearts across the world. This article is available in French and Spanish, and will be translated to French and English.
“I feel free, nothing scares me,” the president said, “the world should be 1.3 billion Catholics, nearly half of whom live in the Americas. Argentina, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who has known Francis for decades. “North and South America are both societies with European origins that have achieved independence.” The idea of freedom is the cornerstone of the Americas, “the philosophy professor told AFP. The first pope to address the United States congress has a strong sense of human dignity and freedom, he says. But while one of the Americas has prospered, the other has become more impoverished. “The pope is very sensitive to the issue of social justice – a more Latin than a North American theme,” he said, referring to the “peripheries” in difficulty, “Sorondo said, referring to Francis’s support for those on the margins. – ‘Link between worlds’ – The Archbishop of Buenos Aires was almost an unknown when he was elected on March 13, 2013, becoming the first pope to choose the name Francis – a homage to St. Francis of Assisi, who dedicated his life to the poor. The Argentine hails from a family of Italian immigrants has become “a lot of links between the Old World and the New World”, says Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper. However, “the dramatic history of Argentina at the end of the 20th century is what shapes his personal trajectory”, he says in the preface to a book called “Francis, the American pope”. In 2007, Jorge Bergoglio was elected by his fellow bishops in the final document of the Latin American Episcopal Council, which can be read as a guide to many themes. Bergoglio stressed the ills of a “scandalous inequality which wounds personal dignity”, a theme which “clearly guides his actions at the head of the church today”, Vatican specialist Nicholas Seneze writes in “The Words of the Pope”. The Aparecida conference “prioritized the poor”, Sarondo said. “The pope is very critical of capitalism which sacrifices human rights – a typical stance of the Latin American episcopate,” he added. – ‘Faith and blood’ – While Polish pope John Paul II had denounced “wild capitalism”, Francis has taken more concrete steps, such as calling for “a poor church for the poor” and turning down a luxurious papal apartment for a humble hotel room, he said. Bergoglio was an active pastor, taking the bus around Buenos Aires and heading a second thought into slums in Latin America to comfort the poor.
AFP / File / CRIS BOURONCLE, CRIS BOURONCLE
An inmate at the Virgen de Fatima Women’s Prison in Lima shows handmade wooden rosaries made by the prisoners. A total of 72 inmates in the prison have produced 33,000 rosaries to be sold at stores in Lima, to donate the proceedings to Pope Francis
His experience of the Argentine economic crisis has also shaped his idea of ”the misery of big cities”, which is a better life, stripping them of their culture. His view was strongly influenced by the “theology of the people”, the Argentine, nonviolent version of the South American Liberation theology – a strain without the focus on the Marxist class struggle.
And since his arrival in Rome, the pope has created new Latin American cardinals, saying “they bring with them the air of new churches and a history of faith and of blood”. In doing so, he is also reshaping in his image of the conclave of cardinals that will elect his successor.