Among the Argentine bishops who knows Pope Francis best is Oscar Vicente Ojea, who was appointed by the then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as his auxiliary in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires in 2006. These days he is Bishop of San Isidro and president of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference. Ojea here reflects on the ten years of the Francis pontificate in an interview with Jorge Fontevecchia of the media outlet Perfil, which was reproduced on the Argentine Church’s news portal, AICA. The interview has been translated and lightly edited for style and clarity. Posted with permission from Bishop Ojea.
Could you tell me how you experienced the day Bergoglio was elected Pope?
Yes, I have never forgotten it. I was in San Isidro, in my house, in the Bishopric. I had no idea he could be elected pope. A month earlier he had told me that he had submitted his resignation and was planning to live in the priests’ house on Condarco Street. It did not occur to me that a bishop who had presented his resignation was going to be elected pope. Then, when I heard the news on television, my joy was enormous. I remember the shout I gave! We had the cathedral bells ring right away. I was so happy. That night I had a dream that it was not true. I dreamed that a cardinal (probably the one who had appeared on television announcing that Bergoglio was pope) told me: “No, it is not true,” and I woke up happy that the reality was different. Later, I wrote to tell him about this dream, and shortly afterwards he wrote back saying: , “I laughed about your dream; I also thought it was pretty crazy what was happening when the votes were mounting up in the conclave, but straight away I experienced a peace that I immediately realized that was not coming from inside me. Thanks to that peace I survive, that peace is my protective armor.”
I remember those words in the first letter I have from him as pope, and I am convinced that it is this deep peace that allows Pope Francis to work the way he does, in every present moment, in each pastoral action, it is really working with him continuously. When I had the opportunity to see him, I told him: “In Buenos Aires you didn’t have much need of the media; now you are a media sensation.” He answered: “You know, I felt that the Lord was telling me that I have to be myself. The key to communication is authenticity, in being yourself.”
The image we had of Bergoglio [in Argentina] was of a serious person, frowning sternly with a worried expression, yet the one in the Vatican seems to be always laughing. What could it have been — the Holy Spirit, the role, or was the image we had incorrect?
In my case I didn’t perceive such a great difference, because as his auxiliary bishop he and I shared many funny moments. But I think it is the task, the mission; the pope became indistinguishable from his mission. There is a beautiful phrase in The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium], which says that the mission is not a badge that one puts on from the outside. Rather, “I am a mission on this earth” [EG 273]. The person identifies himself with the mission. We can say that in this deep identification [with his mission] that the pope has found this way of communicating with people. He enjoys being close to people. He enjoys his Wednesday audiences, he enjoys his travels very much, and I have the impression that in these pastoral tasks he finds the source of his joy.
If the mission is to be pope and one is the mission, Bergoglio would be different if he had another mission. That the mission transforms the being in each case.
Yes, it would have been another mission and a very noble one, because each mission is a new call. One can respond in a very youthful way to a call at the age of 76, with a lot of energy and desire to contribute one’s entire experience and whole journey in the Church.
You, more than anyone else as auxiliary bishop, spent much of your time with him. Was he one to make jokes, to laugh — was he the same Bergoglio here as he is in Rome?
He made jokes and laughed, yes, above all in private. Maybe it was less noticeable to the outside world.
We could speak about four issues that have marked these ten years of Francis’ papacy: the reform of the Curia, the issue of abuse, the pandemic, and the war. Could you start with the reform of the curia?
This area had been discussed prior to the conclave in those days when the cardinals were gathered in Rome, so he has done no more than fulfill that mission. In presenting Predicate Evangelium a little while ago, which is the document that sets out the reform of the curia, he has fulfilled that mission and has also worked for financial reform.
On the issue of abuse, I was able to attend the [February 2019] meeting with all the presidents of the bishops’ conferences, where it was clearly agreed that the issue of abuse was the greatest cause of the decreased credibility of the Church. There we discussed a series of strategies to combat this tremendous scourge in society and in the Church. Recently, in a newspaper I saw a photo of the Pope laughing with an abuser, suggesting in some way that the Pope was approving or supporting. It really hurt me greatly because there is nothing further from the truth than this situation. I know personally that one of the focal points of the Pope’s struggle is abuse in the Church.
On the subject of the pandemic, which I would like to reflect on, we have the image of him in St. Peter’s Square, alone, reading the Gospel of the calming of the storm. The apostles were with Jesus, and suddenly — while Jesus was sleeping — the boat begins to sway because of the gale and the storm. And there stands the Pope, using this image to explain the pandemic. We all felt fragile: we were in need of comfort, which is important and necessary. At the same time we needed to row together. We are in the same boat together. We experienced this truth that our life is interwoven with that of others, our life is sustained by ordinary people. I would say that the Pope presented the pandemic to us, and he worked very hard to enlighten us from the Gospel about what we were experiencing.
The Pope saw the pandemic as an opportunity for us to live our equality as human beings. Northern Italy was hit by the pandemic and here suddenly we had a place in the first world that was left without beds, without oxygen, in tremendous anguish because it was the first country to fall, to need to ask for outside help. And suddenly, people we did not know — as we also saw in our homeland: nurses, who were the only means by a which family members could learn how their loved one was doing – were giving us news: “He ate, he is better.”
During the pandemic we had very deep experiences of solidarity and humanity. In my diocese, the women in the soup kitchens, in the barrios, gave amazing examples of self-sacrifice. I never tire of saying that we must give ever more recognition to this work they do. . We saw the phenomenon of solidarity clearly in children taking food to the elderly in their neighborhoods. In my diocese, we had one barrio that infected and locked down: San Jorge. No one could enter because they were all infected, and no one left because they were not welcomed outside. The parish priest called me and said: “What are we going to do about this? It is close to the Campo de Mayo [army base]. I called the Ministry of Defense. A few hours later, they sent soldiers who spent twenty days in the neighborhood, feeding and cooking so much food for the people…. – a phenomenon, especially in our country, given the past relationship of people with the Army. I’ve tried to highlight this every chance I get, because the news of that time can seem unimportant to us now. The pandemic showed forth a world of care. For the Pope it was an invitation to take care of each other, to feel at one with each other, to realize we belong to the same humanity.
You missed the fourth item, war
I am aware, having been to Rome several times, of the enormous efforts the Holy Father has made for peace: his visit early on with the Russian ambassador to the Holy See, his constant allusions to Ukraine as “martyr,” his continuous references to the children killed in war. Even the war drops out of the headlines, you can be sure that the Pope will be praying about it at every Angelus. It is a challenging mediation for him: a war between two Orthodox Christian countries, deeply divided yet both sharing the same roots. The separation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Patriarchate of Moscow has had a great effect on the cultural division between the two countries also. In all of this the Catholic Church has little space for maneuver, but, nevertheless, the Pope is doing what he can.
I think the answer he gave to the media in the most recent in-flight press conference is key: “If I go to Kyiv, I have to go to Moscow.” It is a way of saying: “If I am to be of any use, I have to go to both sides.” Normally, when you have to mediate, you must overcome certain criticisms, because you are calling those involved to build peace. I know from being with him that he experiences this call very intensely. When he broke down in tears in front of the Madonna in Piazza España, the Pope really believed that he was going to be able to take the Madonna as some fruit of peace. But it seems the international powers have come together to arm a war that somehow sustains a certain balance somewhere. He is perfectly aware of this and does everything he possibly can, he moves on all sides to try to ensure a good outcome in the end.
Pope Francis looks from the peripheries to the center. What is it like to see the world from the periphery?
In his last trip to Africa, you can see it clearly. He had not been able to travel to Africa because of his knee, which pained him because in Casa Santa Marta, he had called the leaders of the tribal wars to live together. In an impressive gesture, he knelt down and kissed their feet, imploring them to work to achieve peace. It seems to me that on his trip to Africa, the pope began to make the invisible visible. This is one of his tasks, also. Few media outlets covered the trip to Africa, I have to say, despite its significance. It is the most Catholic continent today — poor, but full of faith. There were crowds with the Pope in Africa on this trip. On February 4, the Pope spoke to a contingent of young people who are refugees in their own country. The older ones go to war and they are left in a situation in which food insecurity is becoming increasingly serious; the children learn only their own languages and do not speak with the other children of the other tribes; they do not go to school. The Pope encouraged these young people, empowering them so that they can rise up, so that they can unite, so that they can organize, so that they can get out of this situation together. On this trip you could see how the world can be observed from another place where imbalances are experienced, the deepest inequalities, the throwaway culture.
At one point when he went to Africa, for example, he did something similar to when he was in Buenos Aires and put a lot of focus on the most populous, most marginalized neighborhoods.
Certainly. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he supplied the barrios with young priests so that they could vigorously accompany the piety of the people in those places. He attended many celebrations that took place there: Holy Week, the washing of the feet, and from there sought to show how we need to preserve certain values in the city that are found in these neighborhoods — preserving a sense of community and solidarity even in the midst of many evils, such as the drug problem that so afflicts our young people . In the barrios on the periphery you have to work on the ground, you can’t just drop in from the outside, because it is much more complicated. The pope, from there, wanted to show the rest of the city how it is necessary to include everyone and not leave anyone out, even those who are hurt the most.
You start by being close to the most hurt, the most excluded, to those who, through drugs — especially in the case of drugs — become alienated from their families and so suffer enormous emotional loneliness. The lack of job opportunities, school dropouts — all the social exclusion in the broadest sense. So, in a way, by focusing there, by starting with the last, we can begin to think big, begin to see how we can include everyone and not shut ourselves off and live in a world only for some.
For the first time, a pope made an official trip together with a leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and Rev. Iain Greenshields, on behalf of the three Christian churches that represent the majority of the population of South Sudan. Prior to the trip he held a spiritual retreat with South Sudanese political and religious leaders, and he knelt down and kissed the feet of President Kiir and Vice President Machar. These gestures of humility of the Pope, are they messages of reconciliation, of brotherhood? What do they represent?
They represent how it is possible to live the faith, concretely, facing that situation, using a gesture that means, at the same time, a profound encounter with the Lord, and an encounter with his brothers in their most desperate situation. There is a phrase of Pope Benedict that the Pope repeats a lot, and that seems to me to be very important. Benedict XVI said it in his speech opening Aparecida [the Latin-American bishops’ meeting in May 2007 in Brazil.] Benedict asked himself: “What does faith give us?” And he answers: “Faith gives us a family.” Faith frees us from the isolation of self and leads us to communion. It is an act of convocation, it is an act of unification, Benedict says — an act of responsibility towards others.
Faith is not a pietistic and individualistic evasion in order to pacify our consciences or to achieve a certain inner balance. Nor is faith, at the other extreme, an NGO that performs various fraternal services. Faith is at the same time both an encounter with God and an encounter with our brothers and sisters. This is a constant in Francis’s preaching. I would say that it is the continuity of the Magisterium of the Church on the faith between Benedict and Francis. Faith cannot be separated from responsibility towards others. Kneeling down means to make oneself available with humility, together with the whole Christian community, even our separated brethren, in order to be able to give a testimony of what the true faith is.
The Pope has visited Bahrain and several other mostly Muslim countries in the Middle East. What is the special importance of relationship and dialogue with the Arab world?
Realize that for us it is another world, the unknown. The most important document on this matter is that of Abu Dhabi, which the Pope affirmed with Imam Al Tayeb, who is the most important religious leader in the Sunni Muslim world. In that document there is a triple commitment. Both commit to dialogue as the only path, collaboration as the way to behave, and reciprocal knowledge as method and criterion. From there, these two monotheistic religious leaders proclaim the need for fraternity, because — believing in the same God — we see in the other a brother. This is why it is a document on universal fraternity, and why the United Nations declared February 4 as the Day of Fraternity — because of this very important document that many of our Muslim brothers and sisters teach to their children in schools.
I would like to quote another brother, Viktor Frankl, who did me a lot of good when I read him during my formative years. He said that the West had made a Statue of Liberty. In recent times, the West has insisted so much on freedom that there was no Statue of Responsibility, which is the flip side of freedom. I think this is magnificent, because it is like a diagnosis; we have walked in freedom, but as a response to life this is inadequate, because responsibility is a response to life. So, in a way, this document reflects the responsibility that these two leaders from such different worlds and cultures take up.
Behind this idea that there is an excessive devotion and monument to freedom, to the detriment of something as important as responsibility, is there something of a criticism of individualism, which generates a certain, more extreme, form of capitalism?
There is a criticism, yes: not of all capitalism, but of an untamed capitalism, which directly overlooks the other. For example, if we take Laudato Si’, which is an important encyclical, it begins with the Canticle of Creatures, which is the first poem written in the Italian romance language, by St. Francis, brother of all things, from whom the Pope took his name. It is a hymn to all the bonds that man has.
Francis can be a brother to everyone and everything — that is why he will call the sun, the moon, death, even those who suffer, all are his brothers. But it is a canticle to God, to the Most High. Francis can be brother to all because he makes himself poor. His poverty gives him a great freedom, even to be able to speak with the birds, because it is from his poverty that Francis builds fraternity. The pope begins by speaking to us, according to this Canticle, of “Sister, Mother Earth,” with whom we share our existence and who welcomes us into her arms. But then the pope immediately denounces a individualistic culture that regards nature as if it is separate from the human being. Seeing nature as separate from us allows us to extract all that we desire and need from it, without any kind of restriction. Hence man as the center of creation: man controls, man dominates, man is the measure of all things. This is justified by a misunderstood sense of the human being that is not biblical at all, because biblical theology — which presents man in the image and likeness of God — has him dominate the world as God dominates it, that is, respecting creation, respecting nature, and calling man to cultivate the earth and take care of it.
The extractive relationship, not only with nature, but of capitalism, is extractive of the other. The other becomes an object of which profit can be made.
Exactly. Not just extractive but an abusive mindset in many ways: the abuse of land — as if agrotoxins do not matter. Abuse of water: as if contamination does not matter. We had a very good experience in the Synod on the Amazon, which shone a spotlight on the human being’s relationship to nature. The Synod was attended by lay people, inhabitants of the Amazon basin, who told of their experiences of water contamination. People who for centuries had survived by fishing realized that the water could not even be used for their traditional medicine. They began to realize that the water was really polluted. What does water contamination lead to? Forced migration. These peoples of the basin had to go to the cities. They could not adapt, either by language or culture, to the cities. So begins the degrading experience of human trafficking, of prostitution, of trying to make a living. Human beings who had lived in close contact with nature, who knew the rhythm of nature, were suddenly subjected to something quite shattering. This is why reflection on the environment is also about what happens in human society. The social crisis is linked to the environmental crisis. They are not two separate crises, but one.
In the encyclical you quote, “Laudato Si’,” the pope speaks of the throwaway culture that affects both excluded human beings and things that we treat like garbage. Is the throwaway culture the culture of fast-paced consumer capitalism?
When the Pope brings up the subject of the throwaway culture, he does so by providing a little bit of a history of exploitation. This is not just exploitation as experienced in industrial society, but is exclusion, casting aside, and discarding, which is another phenomenon altogether. When these things happen he sees them as an example of an untamed capitalism that fails to take into account the common good and the good of society, in which there is no human gaze towards the other. His is a call for a humanization of capitalism more than a criticism of capitalism.
A phrase that can be understood as populism is when the Pope says that we must serve the people and not be served by the people. What does Francis mean when he speaks of “people”?
I think this is a key question. When we speak of the people, we immediately understand as a mass, as a group. “Populism” is any demagogic attempt to make use of the people, to be served by the people, to manipulate the people for personal benefit. It is very important to understand that Pope Francis, when he thinks of the people, thinks of the [Second Vatican] Council’s definition of the People of God. Francis’s ecclesiology is the ecclesiology of the People of God.
The Council defines the Church as the people of God by borrowing a definition from St. Cyprian who said: “The Church is a united people, but not with any unity, but with the unity of the Trinity, which respects each person and at the same time is in continuous relationship with people.” The God of Christians, as “God is love,” is continually going out of himself and is continually receiving the other, to use an image. So, in a way, the Church is defined by the Trinity in the Council; yes it is a people.
In the first place, [the Church] is a people on a journey, because it has a goal, which is to reach the Resurrection. Along this path, she shares stretches of the road with different people and learns and unlearns from different people. In this way, different relationships occur. This is what Pope Francis understands by “the people”: it is the Church embodied in different cultures — it is not an abstraction — and there it takes everything that makes a people, the language, the ways of expression, art, everything that allows a people to be constituted in belonging.
In a way, at this moment we are living a sort of end of historical consciousness, where everything begins when I begin. This issue of losing our roots, our memory, due to the accelerated scientific-technical change, which is wonderful and allows us a lot of things, but at the same time this scientific-technical change many times prevents us, with the necessary rhythm that requires reflection, deepening, intelligence, from being able to delve into the roots. Francis will insist a lot on this, and he will quote a lot from the poem of Bernárdez: “What flowers in the tree comes from what the tree has buried.”
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first from the Americas. What does it mean for the Church to have a pope with a vision so different from what it has been in the past?
In his first encounter with the people, on the balcony of St. Peter’s, the first thing he said was: “The cardinals have had to look for a pope —
From the end of the world.”
From the end of the world. And immediately, he asked the people, lowering his head, to pray for him so that God would bless him. We should reflect a lot on Francis’ gestures, because they are very important. In this gesture, he was saying: “This pope is going to turn to the people in a new way, giving them a different place.” He would go on to say this clearly in The Joy of the Gospel, where he explained how it is the people that evangelizes itself. The Church, the People of God, in this accumulation of relationships, transmits and shares the joy of the Gospel. The Gospel is not transmitted by proselytism, as Benedict also said, but by attraction. If the Gospel is not attractive, it is useless. If one does not see that there is a concrete life behind the Gospel, it is useless. And the Gospel is lived by the people. So, in his first gesture, Francis is saying: “I come from the end of the world,” because, in some way, from the end of the world, in the way of being of those who live in this part of the continent, there is also a human experience, of closeness, which helps us to consider the people as an actor.
Now comes the Synod, which is one of his great projects, and we are now going through it. The Synod is saying to the people of God: “Now we want to listen to the people so that they can tell us what we have to do in the Church.” How we can govern, how we can lead the Church together; we want to listen to them. Then, the different stages that we are living now in the Synod began. This is a personal thought, but the fact that he comes from the end of the world, he is the pope who is going to give the people of God a place, following what the Second Vatican Council wanted.
I see a relationship between the people and the periphery, and the idea that the aristocracy is in the center and in the periphery are the excluded. Can there be a relationship between people-periphery, or end of the world-third world?
The people are all the people. In the people there are no exclusions. What happens is that we have to learn from the periphery. We have always believed that the periphery is controlled and placed vertically, from top to bottom. “I decide what happens with the periphery and I know well what to do with the periphery.” Francis is going to propose that we are all people, but we have to learn from the periphery, because in the periphery certain types of values are lived that are no longer lived in the center.
What concerns does the Pope convey to the bishops?
First of all, he tells us to be shepherds with the smell of sheep, to be close to the people, to be close to the people. If we have to be in the front, be in the front; if we have to be in the middle, be in the middle; if we have to be at the back, be at the back; that we should not look for any kind of personal benefits. He speaks a lot against careerism, against the search for status. He speaks a lot about service, the true joy is in serving. In this moment of the pastor’s life, it seems to me that he is telling us to listen better, to tune our ears. And listening is something active, it is not only something passive — we must know how to listen and be attentive to the meaning of what the other person is telling me, behind the words.
It is not only listening chronologically, it is listening to where life is beating, what are they telling me that they are not saying? Like when the child cries and the mother knows why he cries, whether it is because he is hungry, because he is upset, or because he has a fever. You see that he cries, but you don’t know why. So, he is calling us pastors to have that maternal sensitivity, I would say, in this special moment, to be able to listen to what the people are telling us, what they are feeling, what they are suffering. Because, in the end, we are ordained for the people, and it is the people who give us our place, who really give the pastor and the hierarchy their place through their need. “Father, we need you to be here.”
Why are some of Pope Francis’s messages better received outside the Church than in some sectors of the Church? To what do you attribute this?
I will give as an example Laudato Si’ again. It is surprising how he, one inhabitant of the planet, is able to be able to make himself understood to so many non-believers, agnostics, members of other churches, of other creeds — that he somehow helps them understand what seems be really key. How can we fix the world? We all have a duty to the world. The environment is situated in the logic of reception: what am I going to do with the world I have received? Is it ethical to leave it in a state of filth? Young people are telling me —perhaps not always in a coherent way —that we have to change our lifestyles, our consumption habits. But where is our responsibility? [Francis] says this as an inhabitant of the world. Of course, he is the pastor of the Church, but he is saying, “We are sharing the same planet and we are abusing it.” And this has a great impact, because then people see a pope who extremely close and is touching on a reality.
Clearly, it bothers the elites.
It bothers the elites.
In Fratelli Tutti, the Pope says: “there exists a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility. This contributes to a general feeling of frustration, isolation, and desperation” [FT 29]. What is the Church’s vision of the media in Argentina? What are we doing wrong and what should we do differently?
The Pope gives an annual message to the media, in which he reflects upon the importance and vitality of the service to truth, which serves the understandings of human beings. It is not the service of deepening wounds, deepening cracks. I am going to put it as the Sunday Gospel says: “If I spend all my time touching a wound, the wound will become infected. If I spend all my time thinking about the offense that has been done to me, and when I am distracted I repeat to myself the words that were said to me that hurt me so much, if I am continually in that process, it is impossible for me to grow towards an understanding to build a society, to be able to obtain a consensus.”
The Pope is telling them — he has told them several times — to the media: “Do not make friends with filth, do not profit from that which in the end seeks to create enmity, to increase hatred. Transmit the truth and, at the same time, be facilitators of the encounter between people. Try to create the fascination about what the mystery of another culture means, the mystery of another way of understanding life, the mystery that is ancestral, through centuries and centuries.” The mission of the media is to dazzle again at the forefront of the knowledge of things. To make us think, to make us reflect, to invite us to share a thought. Aristotle said that knowledge begins with admiration. I think we have lost a little admiration within ourselves, even in the face of natural phenomena, to be able to live that fresh and youthful restlessness of those who are discovering things.
We are in a position in which there is nothing to learn. Everything has already been done, everything has already been said. The only thing we have to do is to stir up what has already been said. Then, we get bored reading newspapers, we get bored listening to the news, because they do nothing but repeat the same thing.
The Pope is not coming here, and some Argentines do not seem to want him. It is said that nobody is a prophet in his own land. What about this strange relationship, what is your own evaluation of the knot that has been formed?
I really liked the letter was sent to the Pope on the fifth anniversary of his pontificate. It was from a group of Argentines of different ideologies, of different thoughts. The Pope was very happy to get the letter and replied at once. And in the answer the Pope speaks to Argentina. He says: “If I have done any good during this time, take it as your own, you are my people, the people I love, the people who formed me, and the people who in some way offer me at this moment, so that I may fulfill this service to people.” I believe that it is a source of pride for the Argentines to have a pope who lives an absolute dedication to God and to his brothers and sisters. Using more popular language, he has totally developed with this years, with the experience of his years; he lives in the present, he gives himself to every pastoral situation of the present. I believe that he is giving the Church an enormous dose of life, and that is the Gospel. The pope’s source is the Gospel. He is translating the Gospel today, at this moment.
Should we, as Argentines, feel proud that we gave the world an Argentine to fulfill a very important mission for all of us?
Both in the last interview he did in Argentina with Bernarda Llorente and in different encyclicals, the Pope recurrently focuses on young people. In the case of the attack on the Vice President, all those who have been arrested thus far are young people disenchanted with politics, there are also the young people of Revolucion Federal who are characterized by violent demonstrations. What message do you think the Pope gives to young people and can you elaborate on it?
In the document Christus Vivit, which summarizes the Synod on Youth and the gathering in Rome, the Pope puts on the shoulders of young people the responsibility to end the globalization of indifference. We can see a parallel in his gestures; the first gesture was when he left Rome for the first time in July 2013, and his first trip was to Lampedusa. There he denounced an insensitive, irresponsible culture, on an island that is a place of passage for those fleeing war and hunger. The pope also speaks with gestures, he is telling young people: “We have in our hands the possibility of creating a new humanity, of creating a humanity where we enter into a process in which we feel our brother, our sister, as part of our own humanity. If we make that effort, surely we will have in our hands a new world.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan, which in my opinion is archetypal and illustrates the entire encyclical Fratelli Tutti, sets us on the path to experiencing the other as a part of me. That other whom I find fallen on the road is myself. It is my own humanity. If I can experience that reality, I am the one who stops in the middle of the road so that I can live my humanity to the full. I do not pass up the treasure of being able to stop in front of my brother and give him my time. If we believe that, then we will be able to build, as the Gospel proposes, a happy society.
I would like you to send a message to the laity, to the Church itself, regarding the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the papacy of Francis.
I would like to invite you, those who can participate, to put your heart into these tributes to Pope Francis that we are making, that all of you feel part of this pride, of this joy of having him as supreme pastor of the Church. And an invitation that I always make to people, to read the messages of the Pope, to read what he has left us. That we not let ourselves be carried away by interpretations or narratives, to see some opinions and question his meaning, but to go to the source itself to see what the Holy Father is communicating to us. This is a great blessing that we brother bishops, want to give to the Argentine people in these days of celebration.
With thanks to Where Peter Is, where this article originally appeared.