Remembering Father Diego Fares, our greatest interpreter of Pope Francis

By Austen Ivereigh, 31 July 2022
Father Diego Fares, an Argentine Jesuit and writer for La Civiltà Cattolica, who passed away on Tuesday 19 July. Image: Vatican News


Diego Fares, S.J., who died of cancer last week in Rome at age 66, was arguably the greatest interpreter of the thought and way of proceeding of Pope Francis. I was delighted to call him a friend. But the first time we met, a friendship seemed pretty unlikely.

Looking back at those writings and the many “tutorials” I had with Diego in 2018 and 2019, I realize now how much Diego helped me understand concretely what many of us intuited: that Francis’ election was the grace-filled response of Providence to a world ever deeper in crisis. He was convinced that the pontificate was a kairos of graces and consolation, in the sense defined by St. Ignatius Loyola as an increase of hope, faith and charity marked by joy. The only question was whether the church would know how to receive that grace and transmit it to the world in works of justice and mercy.

Diego helped me to understand, in a broader sense, what it means in the concrete practice of Francis’ governance to be a discerning leader, one who takes seriously the power of God at work in the world and who knows how to avoid being sucked in by the forces that seek to frustrate that power.

Diego showed me that Francis’ discernment-based leadership is about aligning words and actions with the forward motion of the good spirit: hence the extraordinary dynamism of the Francis pontificate, yet also its gentleness. He allowed me to see why Francis’ trust in the Spirit means he is always deeply at peace, even as hell breaks loose around him; and how—by working with the kairos of time, rather than simply the chronos—he can bring about radical change patiently, without violence.

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Austen Ivereigh is a Fellow in Contemporary Church History at Campion Hall, at the University of Oxford. His latest book is Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church, published by Henry Holt. @austeni

With thanks to America and Austen Ivereigh, where this article originally appeared.


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