the announcement that one “Karolum Cardinalem Wojtyla” had been chosen pope elicited the question, In 2013, despite social media, the Catholic Church’s choice of a new pope still took the world by surprise. The speculations as to who he would be, after Benedict XVI resigned, sorted the papabiles into categories. The first name floated in international media was Ghana’s Peter Turkson, described as “close” to Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger). How that description was arrived at was not explained beyond the fact that Turkson was a curial cardinal and a polyglot who could speak six languages. Curial cardinal and papal nuncio Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka, fluent in 10 languages but one of the lesser known papabiles, was “Ratzingerian.” The categorization did not stop after Jorge Bergoglio’s election to the papacy. His “tiff” with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was par for the course. But to call him her “political archenemy” was not. Is there another way for a Catholic priest to comport himself vis-à-vis the issues of gay marriage and free artificial contraception? One week into the new papacy, Kirchner was neither friend nor foe, but she was privileged with the first papal audience and a private lunch.“Who he?”
Also as quick was the labeling of Bergoglio, when he was still the Jesuit provincial superior in Argentina and, later, Buenos Aires archbishop, as an apostle of “antiliberation theology.”
Indeed he rejected liberation theology. But the basis of the label was the kidnapping and detention of Jesuit priests Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalics by the Jorge Videla regime in 1976. Working for a poor neighborhood, both were advised by Bergoglio to move out. The two disobeyed and were eventually expelled from the Society of Jesus. The quick conclusion: Bergoglio was “involved” in their kidnapping. The true story is out now that he is pope. A primary source recalls how Bergoglio worked for the two priests’ freedom. Knowing that the Videla family priest was to say Mass one day for the dictator and his family, Bergoglio advised the priest to decline. He will say the Mass in his stead—the only way Bergoglio could see Videla, then use the occasion to ask for the release of the priests. Which he did.
Lost in the interminable guesswork following the conclave was the statement of Jalics, now a Jesuit returnee: “As I made perfectly clear in my prior statement, we were arrested because of a female catechist who had at first collaborated with us and then later joined the guerrillas. I hope God will bless Pope Francis abundantly in his duties,” recalling how they celebrated Mass together after his Jesuit reinstatement. But th rather tart description of Bergoglio’s relationship with the Jesuits persists.
The lesbian activist and writer Jamie Manson writes glowingly that she has been “touched by Francis’ clear love of the poor,” but that she is “troubled by his alleged failure to stand up (against) Argentine dictators and his harmful words about LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] families. I am worried by reports that he was unpopular among his brother Jesuits because of his unfavorable views of liberation theology.”
Worried by events that took place almost 40 years ago? That is unfair as well to the present Society of Jesus. Descriptions, labels based on scant knowledge inhibit our proper understanding of the new pope and of his directions that the Catholic faithful want to see. Three very recent events, which should tell us of Pope Francis’ thrusts, have been underreported.
Link (here) to The Inquirer