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Jul 20th
Home Columns A Cup O' Kapeng Barako On Pope Francis, My Take ... Better Late Than Never
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Columns - A Cup O' Kapeng Barako
Friday, 22 March 2013 16:58



By Jesse Jose

A Cup O' Kapeng Barako


I have to have my take, too, on Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina. True, it's old news, but opinions are never old, especially Kapeng Barako opinions. So, here goes, Dear Readers. 


Argentina, as we all know, was the country made famous by Madonna with that song, "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina."  


But Argentina now has a different image, thanks to Pope Francis.  He put that country on the map again.


And the whole world was agog. As well as aghast.  Depends how you look at it, or how you view this unknown man from Argentina. Me, I am amaze.  But definitely the choice of Cardinal Bergoglio to become the Pope was so surprising that all the Italian bishops at that conclave sent an email congratulating the wrong man, the presumptive front-runner and favored candidate, Cardinal Angelo Scola, of Italy.  Can you believe that? 


For almost over a week now, since it was announced by a white smoke that came out from the chimney of the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Pope Francis is still dominating the headlines of the newspapers and on line media. 


It used to be the lithe-looking President Obama and that chubby-looking boy president of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who occupy the headlines, but now it's been Pope Francis.


It's surprising not only because he chose the name Francis, which is a name that no Pope in the past had chosen, but because for the first time in the two-thousand year history of the Roman Catholic Church, a cardinal from the Jesuit order has been named as Pope, to lead the 1.2 billion world-wide members of this Church ... and he's from Argentina.


The other religious entities that can even compare in size in memberships, are the Sunni Muslims, estimated at 940 million and the Vishnu Hindus at about 580 million members.  I goggled that information.  Whether that's true or not, I dunno.  I am only bringing a point here that Catholicism has the largest believers among several religious entities on earth.      


It's also surprising that Pope Francis chose to be called "Francis."  Not Francis I, but simply, Francis.  "Pope Francis," that's it.  No Roman numerals after his chosen name.

It was a good choice, I think, I mean, I hope, it was a good choice that Pope Francis is now the pope.  But who am I to question the religious wisdom of more than 77 cardinals out of 144 cardinals of my faith, who chose him to be the one? 


I can only pray for him. 

I dunno much about this new pope of my faith, so I did a little bit of reading about him.  I scanned the papers and the Internet.

Though born and grew up in
BuenosArgentina, his parents are Italians, who immigrated to Argentina.  He was born on Dec. 17, 1936, and that makes him 76 this year, three years older than me.  His dad was a railway worker and his mom, a housewife.


After studying chemistry, he enrolled in a seminary when he turned 21 and was ordained a priest at age 33, in 1969.  And it was said that he "relished the study not just of theology, but also secular studies such as psychology and literature."  He went to schools in Argentina, Chile and Germany.


He was a brilliant student and was said to speak six languages: English, German, French, Italian, Latin and Spanish.  Having been born in Argentina, his native tongue, of course, is Spanish, but he's very fluent in Italian, his parent's native tongue.


Before he became a cardinal, he was the "Jesuit Provincial" for Argentina, the church official in charge of the Jesuit order in that country.


It was also said that in the 70's, he collaborated with the junta of the military dictatorship of Gen, Jorge Videle.  And that during that time "30,000 people disappeared, tortured and killed." 


But despite these accusations, the people of Argentina described him as "a passionate defender of the poor and disenfranchised."  And that he even gave up a palace reserved for cardinals, and chose instead to live in a small apartment and cooked his own meals and rode public transportation instead of a chauffeur-driven luxury car.  


W AR AGAINST GOD: More recently, he clashed with the former President and his successor and widow, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. And that was because of his stance on gay marriage, abortion and the adoption of children by gay couples. He described the government-supported laws on these issues as a "war against God' and a "maneuver by the devil."


He also castigated priests in Buenos Aries who refused to baptize the children of unwed mothers.


What I truly like about Pope Francis, is the simplicity and humility in choosing his papal name, as simply "Francis," a name that's linked to St. Francis of Assisi, who also took the vow of humility, simplicity and poverty.


A story was once told and re-told that in the early years of Francis' cardinalship, he surprised the staff of a hospital in Buenos Aries when he asked for a bowl of water, which he used to wash the feet of several patients with AIDS and he then kissed their feet saying, "Society forgets the sick and the poor."


St. Francis of Assisi, as we, Roman Catholics, all know, is a medieval patron saint of Italy, who came from a wealthy family, but took the vow of poverty, simplicity and humility. Pope Francis mirrors that humility of St. Francis.


But it was opined by critics and detractors of the Catholic Church that Pope Francis' views on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, women as priests were the reasons Francis got chosen as pope.    


To me, the reason Francis, the Argentine, was chosen the 266th pope of the Church, was because Lord Jesus chose him, just like He chose Peter, the fisherman, to be the "rock" of my faith, and that faith is called and prayed in the prayer, "I Believe in God" ... the "One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church."


Amen, I say.  That's all.  JJ

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