The Pope’s friend
Fr John O’Connor, Parish Priest of St. Anne’s Shankill, Dublin, worked in Buenos Aires from 1973 for 31 years. During that time he was a family friend of Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. The new Pope, as Archbishop, was also his superior.
Fr. O’Connor says that the important thing about Pope Francis is that he is a “man of great principle”. Fr. O’Connor himself experienced great suffering during his time in Argentina when three priest and two seminarian students from his own order, the Pallotine Fathers were killed by the military. In 2001 he invited Archbishop Bergoglio to celebrate the 25th anniversary Mass of these victims.
Fr O’Connor says Archbiship Bergoglio was a “very simple, very unassuming” man who wanted separation between Church and State. He also adds that he had a sense of humour and grace as was shown in particular in his correspondence with President Kirchner. Here he tells his story of Pope Francis to Conor Deane.
President Kirchner letter to the Pope
To His Holiness
In truth this is the first time I have written a letter to a pope. Not to speak of good wishes for the celebration of the ‘Day of the Pontiff.” I don’t have a clue.
They told me that the Foreign Ministry or the Secretary for Culture always did this, but now that the Pope is an Argentinean, the President should do it.
But they gave me a template for a letter that seemed to be written for protocol from the 13th Century.
I told them “I won’t sign this,” it would be better if they sent what they used to send (in the past)”. I took the liberty to write you a letter, while accepting that it would be sent to Your Holiness blah, blah, blah… isn’t a question either of not accepting anything).
I hope you have received the frame with the commemorative postal stamps of your pontificate, as well as the package with the now famous maté.
My idea was to begin the letter with the name that you prefer” – meaning ‘Padre Jorge’ or ‘Padre Bergoglio’ – but they told me, ‘No, President’.
Well, it’s done! Were they right? The truth is I don’t know. In any case it’s not a question to argue about.
Farewell and take care! Drink mate. You know what I mean.
With respect and care
Pope’s letter to President Kirchner
To the Most Excellent Madam President of the Argentine Nation
Dr. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Vatican, June 25, 2013
Thank you for your letter of last June 15, on the occasion of the Day of the Pontiff. May the Lord reward your thoughtfulness for having written it yourself.
Of course I remain curious to see that model of letter that seemed of the 13thcentury, simply to maintain the “sense of humor.”
Thank you, also, for the picture frame with the commemorative postal stamps.
Just as I promised you, I keep you, your children and your loved ones who have passed away present in my prayer.
I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me: the work is not at all that easy.
I continue to drink mate: it is always more palatable than tea or coffee.
I ask you to express my affection and closeness to all Argentinians, for whom I pray every day,
so that they will seek the common good united and in concord.
May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin mind you.