Understanding the piety of the Pope

by | Apr 8, 2013 | Pope

“In Argentina, they say that if you want to understand the priestly soul of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, then you have to know the villas miserias, literally “villas of misery,” meaning the slums in Buenos Aires where the poorest of the poor are found ” writes John Allen in the NCR.

Of course much the same was said of S.t Vincent dePaul! The “way of Vincent” is the way of being energized in his encounters with those who lived in poverty. Think also of Blessed Rosalie Rendu, DC.

According to Fr. Juan Isasmendi, who lives and works in one of the villas, this is where the future Pope Francis filled his lungs with the “oxygen” he needed to think about what the church ought to be.

There are roughly 20 of these slums in Buenos Aires, often just a block or so away from gleaming high-rise office towers and luxury apartment buildings. Bergoglio’s pastoral revolution was to hand-pick a cadre of especially strong, dedicated priests not just to visit the villas but to live and work here, sharing the lives of the people down to the last detail.

The aim was to make the faith come alive, preaching and celebrating the sacraments while also turning the parish into a comprehensive social service center — fighting drugs and violence, educating the young and taking care of the old, providing job training and even community radio to give the people a voice.

Those who know his mind best say Bergoglio wanted to send a message to the villas: Even if politics and the economy have forgotten about you, the church hasn’t.

If that sounds abstract, here’s a piece of what it means in practice….

Vist the NCR article for the full story


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