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The heart of the pope

Maybe it wasn't by chance that Pope Francis' long interview given to Antonio Spadaro, immediately circling the globe, came out on the eve of an important date in the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. As the Bishop of Rome confided to his priests, it was on the feast of St Matthew 60 years ago – 21 September 1953 – that he suddenly discovered his priestly vocation. The 17 year old went to confession and, as Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti recount, “I understood something strange. I don't know exactly what it was, but it changed my life”.

There is the root of the Jesuit and the Bishop who chose as his episcopal motto a unique Latin expression used by the Monk Bede to describe the calling of the Apostle Matthew, when Jesus “had mercy on him and chose him” ( miserando atque eligendo ). This phrase expresses perfectly the heart of our Pope, clearly shown again in his interview: the awareness of being loved by God and the need to respond to his gaze.

In this way the text fits, certainly in a reduced dimension, within a literary genre chosen by Popes in the second half of the 20th century. The series began in 1967 with Dialogues with Paul VI by Jean Guitton, continued in various ways with John Paul II and in 2010 with Benedict XVI in Light of the World by Peter  Seewald. All these with a single purpose: the search to continue the  dialogue with the men and women of today and to make oneself  understood.

And this is what the Church, despite the inevitable obstacle of human imperfection, has always done in an effort to respond with fidelity to the word of Christ. This and nothing else, regardless of diverse interpretations, is what Pope Francis is doing; he seeks to have a loving personal relationship with those he encounters. Thus, once again, we have what Paul VI called at the close of the Council, “the ancient story of the Good Samaritan” - stopping to help the injured man, abandoned on the street.

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 19, 2019

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