Francis “will be a great Pope”: Clelia Luro de Podesta weighs in on the new pontiff
Maybe to the new generation of Christian militants accompanying the slum priests, Monseñor Jerónimo Podestá’s name doesn’t mean much. But those who have been kicking around the barrios a few years know that the dictator Juan Carlos Ongania defined him as his main enemy when in 1967 he filled Luna Park to talk about Populorum Progressio (an act unthinkable and perhaps impossible in the 21st century, a Catholic priest who could convoke a crowd to talk about politics and religion). What is perhaps better known is his struggle for the right of priests to marry, his own resignation from the priesthood to unite with the one who has since been his wife [now widow] and partner, Clelia Luro, and the founding of the Federación Latinoamericana de Sacerdotes Casados y sus Esposas [“Latin American Federation of Married Priests and Their Wives”]. Following the appointment of Jorge Bergoglio at the head of the Vatican, Tiempo Argentino visited Clelia Luro at her home in the Caballito barrio. There, among photos of her partner and memories of the struggle of a lifetime, Luro stated that Francis “will be a great Pope, the Pope who is going to turn the Church around.”
When did you get to know Bergoglio?
I got to know him when Jerónimo was sick. Nobody from the Church came near us, but when Bergoglio realized he was hospitalized, he talked to him by phone. And when they moved him into therapy, Bergoglio was in an audience, he put everything aside and came to bring him the anointing of the sick — which isn’t the same as extreme unction. I know what it must have meant to Jerónimo, after all the blows the institution had given him, for a cardinal to accompany him and be praying with him.
And after that episode, did you communicate again with each other?
He would call me every Sunday. Since Jerónimo died, 12 years ago, he has always been attentive.