Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sources of information on Pope Francis

I can't say I'm a great 'Vatican watcher', knowing where every cardinal went to school and such like. But even if I'd ploughed through a dozen biographies of likely 'papabile' I probably wouldn't be much the wiser about Jorge, Cardinal Bergoglio. Sources are appearing now, however, and here's a quick run-down.

His official biography from the Vatican news blog: dates, jobs, membership of dicasteries. (Vatican departments each have a team of Cardinals, not necessarily resident in Rome, who act as consultors. Cardinals can be members of several at once.)

Interestingly, Pope Francis had limited pastoral experience until he was made a bishop in 1997; at that point he clearly threw himself into things. Before that he'd been a student at various levels, a teacher, and then Novice Master and Provincial for the Jesuits in Argentina. He has never worked in the Curia.

He was ordained in 1969, right on the cusp of the final set of liturgical changes. He lived through all the hopes and trauma of the liturgical reform as an adult, like all his generation, though he is too young to have had anything to do with the Second Vatican Council.

Fr Tim Finnigan has very helpfully pointed to sources confirming the application of Summorum Pontificum in Argentina, including Buenos Aires. Yes, he allowed the Traditional Mass to be celebrated. The subsequent difficulties with that permission are discussed here.

An article written by a Argentinian journalist in 2005, when he was mooted as an alternative to Cardinal Ratzinger. This is fascinating - hat-tip to Valle Adurni for finding it. It seems Cardinal Bergoglio gained a very tough reputation in dealing with the Jesuits as Provincial Superior during a very difficult time, during the military dictatorship, when Jesuits were being sucked into Liberation Theology. He had no truck with Liberation Theology, and made enemies as a result. This weird theology, which is thankfully more or less of historical interest only today, attempted to replace the mission of the Church as the salvation of souls, with a mission concerned only with political liberation, interpreted in a Marxist way.

The other interesting thing is that the author emphasises Bergoglio's shyness and his reluctance to speak and write; he has few published works. It will be interesting to see if he keeps that up as Pope. This is also noted in a new article by Edward Pentin.

The Guardian has a short list of quotations from him, plus a couple of hostile ones about him from others.

The Guardian has also been trying to dig up dirt on his attitude to the military rulers of Argentinia, when he was Jesuit Provincial. They've not come up with anything terribly convincing (or recent); this may, or may not, become an issue later, and it is as well to be aware of the accusations.

Clearly the secular media are not going to like him very much: they will never forgive him for writing this, about the (successful) bid to legislate for Same Sex Marriage in Argentina.

Here, the envy of the Devil, through which sin entered the world, is also present, and deceitfully intends to destroy the image of God: man and woman, who receive the mandate to grow, multiply, and conquer the earth. Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a "move" of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.

Lord Jesus, shelter our Holy Father the Pope under the protection of Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou his light, his strength, and his consolation.


  1. According to Cathcon he did graduate work on Romano Guardini when he was in Germany; it could be a lot worse.

  2. Anonymous4:17 pm

    Pope Francis's name was really Jorge Mario Bergoglio.