It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since the day we Argentines heard that name on the balcony of the Vatican. “Did Bergoglio say?” We all scream and celebrate like the World Cup final. Another Argentine planting a flag and making history. For a few moments, the western world stopped to watch and listen to what that man dressed in white had to reveal to humanity. Then came the first request: “Pray for me”.
How many will have actually done so during this decade? On that day, the Pope at the End of the World was far from imagining how the world would change during the years of his pontificate. Gone were the scandals and opulence in the Vatican and a new era opened in which his mission would be to reconcile the Church with men. From the first days that was his imprint: a poor church for the poor, that goes out to the existential peripheries to meet sinners, to reconcile man with God. Embodying the literal meaning of the term pontiff: bridge builder.
These ten years were not easy. Nor his struggle to embody those changes. Dismantling old power structures within the Vatican turned out to be more complex than it seemed. And the bureaucracy ended up consuming too much energy. At 86 years old, today Francisco fights against various ailments and health problems, not to stop or slow down. He continues promoting reforms, proposing synods and writing encyclicals, in longer days than his collaborators wanted. If there is something that keeps him awake: being in tune with what is demanded of him. And it would not be unreasonable to hear him, in the not too distant future, resign, like Benedict XVI, if he came to feel that he could not keep up with his commitments.
he had to be the pope of the pandemic. And beyond the message that he gave at the beginning of the confinement, “no one is saved alone”, more than one claims that he did not have a similar spiritual crisis. The same as non-intervention in matters such as Russia’s war with Ukraine. Many Argentines do not forgive him that in these 10 years he has not visited his country. “He forgot about us”, they say. Francisco’s collaborators know how much those words weigh on him. And the explanation is always the same: that it would only deepen the crack.
He also had to be the Pope of a secularized society, in which the Church lost its rank as a moral beacon of society. Understanding the current times, preaching the Gospel without compromising the essence of the message, but updating the forms, is one of the great challenges he faced. maybe your mayor contribution to world peace, in these ten years it has been his attempt to destroy the great conflicts of the 20th century that dragged into the 21st century and that confront entire nations: the United States with Cuba, Israel with Palestine; Turkey and Armenia, among others of his memorable trips.
*Journalist. Author of “Francis. The Pope of the people”.
by Evangelina Himitian*