Francis is my Guy
During the presidential election in 1953 that pitted the incumbent President Elpidio Quirino against his former secretary of defense, the charismatic Ramon Magsaysay, campaign techniques never before seen in the country were utilized.
The jingle “Mambo, Mambo, Magsaysay” composed by Raul Manglapus was a huge favorite with the masa.
Mambo, Mambo, Magsaysay
Our democracy will die
Kung wala si Magsaysay
Campaign buttons and posters that read “Magsaysay is my Guy” were distributed all over the country and, in the end, the “Guy” was elected president by an overwhelming margin of well over a million votes.
Magsaysay’s assumption to the presidency brought about a sense of optimism among the people and renewed hopes of a better future ahead for the nation.
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It has been six months since Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina was chosen to head the Roman Catholic Church. The first non-European elected to the papacy in 1,300 years, the first from Latin America, and the first Jesuit to occupy the throne of St. Peter in Rome, he chose “Francis” as his name after St. Francis of Assisi.
By his personal example, he has shown what humility is all about. Right after his election, he shared a bus with his colleagues instead of using a private limousine. He chose a modest vehicle instead of a more comfortable SUV to move around the Vatican, in sharp contrast with the type of transport used by some of our religious leaders.
By his pronouncements, he has opened the doors of the Church a little bit wider—not too wide, but enough for a gust of fresh air to enter an institution that has long appeared to be mired in dogma and opposed to any form of dissent.
In July, returning home from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he was asked about homosexuals in society. Pope Francis answered: “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” If the Supreme Pontiff of 1.2 billion Catholics is not prepared to pass judgment, why should anyone?
For the past two days, the Inquirer has carried portions of an exclusive interview with Pope Francis conducted by Antonio Spadaro, SJ, editor in chief of La Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal. The interview was conducted in Italian. After the Italian text was officially approved, a team of five independent experts were commissioned to produce the English translation (Editor’s Note).
Our readers may wish to go through the whole interview, which is available on the Internet. Let me just highlight some of the more humane aspects of the Pontiff that came out in the interview.
The article is titled “A Big Heart Open to God.” Father Spadaro starts the interview with a description of the Pope’s living quarters: “The setting is simple, austere. The workspace occupied by the desk is small. I am impressed not only by the simplicity of the furniture, but also by the objects in the room. There are only a few. These include an icon of St. Francis, a statue of Our Lady of Lujan, patron saint of Argentina, a crucifix, and a statue of St. Joseph sleeping.”
Father Spadaro’s first question: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”
Pope Francis: “I do not know what might be the most fitting description … I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner…. Perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve. The best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”
When he was asked if he would accept his election as pontiff, this is what he said: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”
Father Spadaro: “Why did you become a Jesuit?”
Pope Francis: “Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community, and discipline. And this is strange, because I am a really, really undisciplined person. But their discipline, the way they manage their time—these things struck me so much.”
This is followed by a long discussion on the Society of
Jesus and its influence on him.
Father Spadaro: “What kind of church do you dream of?”
Pope Francis: “I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people, and accompany them like the good Samaritan… The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue, and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience so that no one is left behind. Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself, and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent.”
Certitude and mistakes
Father Spadaro: “If the encounter with God is not an ‘empirical eureka,’ and if it is a journey that sees with the eyes of history, then we can also make mistakes?”
Pope Francis: “Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things, there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.”
Father Spadaro asks what his preferred way of prayer is.
Pope Francis: “I pray the breviary every morning. I like to pray with the psalms. Then later I celebrate Mass. I pray the rosary. What I really prefer is adoration in the evening even when I get distracted and think of other things or even fall asleep praying.”