Pope will break a lot of rules — Apostolic Nuncio
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Friday, March 15 2013
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Archbishop Nicola Girasol...
Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, will break a lot of rules as he tries to continue to live as simply as possible at the Vatican.
So said Apostolic Nuncio to TT, Archbishop Nicola Girasol, in an interview at his residence in St Clair, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
“He will break a lot of rules. Even last night (Wednesday) he appeared in a very simple way without the red mantle. He is a head of state so he will fulfil certain protocols but I think it would be difficult for him as a simple man with a spirit of service. I think he would adjust and maybe simplify or change some of the protocols,” said Girasol.
A friend of the new pope for approximately 13 years, Girasol met him while serving at the Apostolic Nuncio in Argentina as charge d’affaires from 2000 to 2006. Girasol kept in contact with Cardinal Bergoglio through correspondence, and even received a letter from him, addressed to Girasol’s residence in Trinidad, last year.
In addition, when Girasoli visited his family members in Buenos Aires in October 2012, he met up with Bergoglio. “We shared good conversation, and indeed I always admired the way he conducted his ministry — a church in service of humanity, a church that leads, not with power, but with people,” he said.
According to Girasoli, he has always admired Bergoglio and shared his vision of the church as well as his pastoral ministry.
He said he especially liked Bergoglio’s clear stand that the Church should admit and apologise for its wrongdoings, specifically cases of paedophilia.
Girasol believes Bergoglio’s simplicity and “smiling style” will serve the Church well at this time as it needs a new way to present itself. In fact, he said, people expected a change with the election of the new pope. “When Pope Benedict XVI retired he indicated that the world had changed and demanded change from the Church but felt he was too old and not well enough to do it,” he said.
He said people wanted a pope that could reform the Roman Curia, the central government of the Catholic Church, and they also wanted a pope that did not come from Europe. Personally, Girasol believes that in deciding to chose a pope from outside of Europe for the first time in 1,000 years, the College of Cardinals wanted someone they knew well.
“Unfortunately, we (the Church) faced many challenges and difficulties in the past two or three years, and many problems within the Curia,” he noted. “And numerically, the presence of the Catholic Church is in Latin America. Argentina is maybe 95 percent Catholic. Unfortunately, in North America and Europe we are facing a decline in religious practices — not only for Catholic but for all the other religions. Change was a sign and a new hope for the people.”
Girasol explained that social justice was a pillar of Bergoglio’s ministry and people expected the new pope to take a firm stand on the issue of social justice. He said Bergoglio spent a lot of time on issues for the people of Argentina, and his attitude to give a “voice to the voiceless” was imperative to his ministry, which is linked to the message of the Gospel.
He recalled that Bergoglio was a chemical technician who became a priest late in life. He said Bergoglio’s parents were Italian immigrants, his father working at a train station. “He came from a simple family and so always had a connection with the people,” said Girasol.
He also described the new pope as a man with an ecumenical view, and a man of dialogue. “He is very well loved by the Argentinean Jewish community, and by persons of other Christian denominations. He has always been elected as chairman of interreligious dialogue in Argentina because he has a kind of attitude that people do not run away from. He is charming and smiling and people are willing to get closer to him,” the Apostolic Nuncio said.
Girasol explained that Bergoglio got his inspiration from St Francis of Assisi, from whom he chose his name. Protection of the environment, reformation of the Church and humility were three of the main pillars of St Francis, said Girasoli.
St Francis was viewed as a reformer of the church, answering God’s call to “repair my church in ruins.” In this case, he said, Bergoglio was inspired by his love for the voiceless and the poor. He also said Bergoglio’s humility should not be a sign of weakness but of wisdom.
“He tried to live what he was announcing. Not only that we have to share with the poor but he tried to live in poverty. He decided not to have a car or have a driver but to take public transport. He did not live in the palatial bishop’s residence, but in a small apartment. The people were very touched to see their cardinal, who they often refer to as Father Bergoglio, become pope. He tried always to give a concrete example of that,” Girasoli said.
He believes Pope Francis would have many challenges, particularly in changing the attention of the Church to serve instead of leading people.
“In this he would meet some resistance because, in a universal church, not everyone thinks the same,” Girasol said.
The reformation of the Curia would also be difficult, he said, but he has faith in the new pope. “He is a man of great faith, a man of prayer and very simple. I think he will do everything with simplicity and people would soon understand his vision,” Girasol said.
Regarding the fact that Bergoglio retired as Archbishop of Argentina because of his age, 76, and was then elected pope, Girasol said it was surprising. “But knowing Bergoglio I think he is still a man who could probably give a lot in his physical state,” he said.
“We were astonished when his name was announced because he was not one of the names that the international media presented. They (the cardinals) did a very good job in keeping that secret,” he laughed.
Meanwhile, the Latin community in Trinidad will be having a special Mass to celebrate the election of Pope Francis at 10 am on Sunday at the Fatima College Chapel, Mucurapo Road, Port-of-Spain.