As a teen, the Holy Father’s father gave talks on the papacy

Undated handout photo of Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio and family members

The future Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, pictured as a young man in the back second from left, and his family (his paternal grandmother, Rosa, and father, Mario, are seated) in this undated photo. (CNS photo/Clarin handout via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — Obviously oblivious to the fact that he would have a son who, one day, would become pope, a 17-year-old Mario Bergoglio actually became a sort of informal expert on the papacy, giving two talks on the subject in his native Italy.

An Italian author, Stefano Masino, made that and other interesting discoveries about Pope Francis’ closest relatives when he conducted detailed research in local, national and diocesan archives in Italy. Some of his findings were published today in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Mario, Pope Francis’ father, grew up in the northern Italian city of Asti in the Piedmont region and took an active part in the diocese’s youth group.

In 1925, when he was a 17-year-old high school student, the Diocesan Youth Federation organized a two-month-long series of conferences dedicated to a variety of topics. Some teens were assigned to give talks on the history of Catholic Action; the relationship between prayer, action and sacrifice; and responsible journalism.

Mario Bergoglio was assigned “The Papacy” and was given a very good write-up in the local paper after his talk.

In the paper’s Dec. 12, 1925, edition, the article said:

“Mario Bergoglio, an accounting student, spoke passionately and forcefully — with frequent and apt historical references — on the theme, “The Papacy.” Captivating his audience and receiving their applause, he can surely be counted on for successfully being an ardent proponent of our ideal.”

Three years later, during an annual Father’s Day celebration organized by a Catholic youth association, he also delivered “a most beautiful explanatory speech on the papacy,” heaping high praise on the pope at the time, Pope Pius XI.

Less than a year before he and his parents were set to immigrate to Argentina, he took part in a “Catechist Contest” in 1928, testing — alongside the local bishop — the line-up of contestants.

Pope Francis has often talked very lovingly of his paternal grandmother, Rosa, who taught him how to pray and helped instill in him his great faith in Christ.

But her son — the pope’s father, Mario — also inherited the same sensibility.

In fact, in this book-length series of interviews, the future pope says his father took his decision to become a priest very well, “More than well, he was happy.”

While the pope’s mother, who was also very religious, worried he was acting too hastily, “I definitely knew my father was going to understand me better,” the future pope said.

His father’s mother, Rosa, “was a very strong religious role model for him (for Mario), and he had inherited that religiousness, that fortitude,” he said.

Pope Francis, too, inherited those gifts and, though he “came from the ends of the earth,” didn’t fall far from the Bergoglio’s tree of faith.

The cardinal walking in Piazza Navona who became pope

Father Rosica participates in press briefing at Vatican

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Media Foundation, has been assisting Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, left, Vatican spokesman, with the daily press briefings. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who has been helping the Vatican press hall during the interregnum, gave journalists his impressions of last night’s election of Pope Francis. We thought we would share his reflections with you here:

Sunday night we were working late and when I came out of the office, we walked over to Piazza Navona and we met Cardinal Bergoglio half the way and walked with him back to the Casa del Clero [the residence where the cardinal was staying]. We had a lovely conversation on the way. And just at the end, he took my hands and he said, “Pray for me.” And I said, “Are you nervous?” and he said, “A little bit!”

He’s a wonderful man I’ve known him since 2001 when I prepared World Youth Day. The simplicity is so striking and yet it is not a simplicity that’s without a solid foundation… I was stunned at what happened last night, absolutely stunned….

I didn’t expect the pontificate to begin with “buona sera” [good evening]. He chose not to follow the beautiful ritual in Latin. But it’s clear that he is the pastor who is coming to meet his people in the diocese of Rome.

And I close my eyes, and we shouldn’t make comparisons right away, but I couldn’t help but feel the presence of John XXIII, the smile of John Paul I, that courage and firmness of John Paul II and the solid-rootedness in Jesus Christ of Benedict XVI.

So what I found last night, and I thought about a long time when I finally got home at three o’clock this morning, is that the story continues: we have a pope and we have a shepherd and he’s going to build it on a solid foundation.

‘You can’t pick and choose in Catholic moral teaching’

By Greg Watry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The church must evolve with the times, and the clergy must stand by their faith in the face of animosity from the secular world, a Catholic philosopher said.

John Rist, a philosopher and professor at The Catholic University of America, said in the latest edition of Vatican Voices that in order for Catholicism to flourish the clergy “have got to be visible, they have to be unpopular in many cases.  If they don’t, they’ll be failing their job.”

3rist4

(CNS Photo)

Rist recognizes the risks the clergy take when promoting Catholic philosophy.  “If you say you’re opposed to abortion you don’t get your head cut off, but you get abused.  You might be called a pedophile or something like that.”

But young people, who are idealistic, are drawn to morally brave behavior, he said.  Priests set a good example for the laity by defending their faith.

In order to defend the faith, Rist said, one must learn what secular culture says and why.  By not engaging with the secular world, the church alienates itself and “the outside world gets further and further away, and you get less and less chance to have contact with it or even understand what it’s doing.”

The church addressed the issue of secularism during the Second Vatican Council.  However the council fathers didn’t understand “the problem they were trying to solve,” Rist said.  “They knew somehow the church was out of sync with the modern world,” he said, but not why.

During Vatican II and still today, he said, the problem of disconnection with the modern world lies in stagnant thinking.

Theologians don’t understand that the church is allowed to evolve, Rist said.  “They think that if we open the door to thinking and considering change, we’re going to lose everything.”

The truth is the church is always in a state of flux, Rist said.  Dramatic changes, as those that occurred during Vatican II, have happened throughout the history of the church.

In the New Testament, Rist said, Jesus claims, “’I will lead you to all truth,’ not I’ll give it to you right now on a plate.”

Vatican Voices: Father Robert Prevost

(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)

By Greg Watry

VATICAN CITY — In the latest Vatican Voices podcast, Father Robert Prevost, Prior General of the Augustinian Order, talks about the dominance of mass media in the West and the church’s response to secular culture.

 

 

Click here:

Vatican Voices: Father Robert Prevost

For related videos click here:

 

Vatican Voices: Ralph Martin

(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)

By Greg Watry

VATICAN CITY — In the latest edition of Vatican Voices, Ralph Martin, a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and an official expert at the Synod on the new evangelization, talks of the legacy of Vatican II and some theological fallacies that he says spread in its wake.

Click here:

Vatican Voices: Ralph Martin

 

For our print story click here: Misreading of Vatican II dampened missionary zeal, theologian says

For our video click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kyILAhx2KQ&list=UUDfNrxA5dMp0co1siQOLrjg&index=3&feature=plcp

Vatican Voices: Bishop William J. McNaughton

(Paul Haring/CNS)

By Greg Watry

VATICAN CITY — In the second podcast from Vatican Voices, Bishop William J. McNaughton, a father of the Second Vatican Council, talks about Vatican II and revitalizing the Catholic faith in the modern world.

Click here:

Vatican Voices: Bishop William J. McNaughton

 

For our print story click here: Fifty years later, a bishop remembers Vatican II

For our video click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90uKf6tr9AA&list=UUDfNrxA5dMp0co1siQOLrjg&index=18&feature=plcp

Vatican Voices: Cardinal Donald Wuerl

(Paul Haring/CNS)

By Greg Watry

VATICAN CITY — In the first of an occasional series of podcasts, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington talks about Catholic higher education and the rise of secularism in the West.

Click here:

Vatican Voices: Cardinal Donald Wuerl

 

 

For our print story click here: Cardinal Wuerl: Synod strives to turn back ‘tsunami of secularism’

For our video click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSupP8M2CNg

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