Fr. Inf. Ireneusz Skubiś talks with Fr. Jerzy Twaróg OFM, a Bernard, a rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in Argentina about what kind of man cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is – pope Francis

FR. INF. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: – The new Pope comes from Argentina. How did you accept this news from Vatican in the evening on 13 March 2013?

FR. JERZY TWARÓG: - It was a great joy about it. We are very proud that the new Pope was born in Argentina and took on the name: Francis. It is joy for the whole Southern America, but especially for Argentina. Certainly we have also felt great surprise.

– Did Priest Rector know personally cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

– The primate of Poland used to appoint rectors of Polish Catholic Missions, in the recent years, they are appointed by the representative of the polish Episcopate of a particular country. I have been lucky to be appointed a rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in Argentina twice: in 2007 and in 2011 for a new cadence. Cardinal Bergoglio sent this nomination signed by him to the polish Episcopate, which accepted me as a rector of the Polish mission and a coordinator of pastoral ministry for Polonia in this country.

– Bishop Ryszard Karpiński, who in 2006 mediated in this issue, mentioned me about it.

– As far as my relations as a rector with cardinal Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires are concerned – it was usually co-participation in Holy Masses for emigrants, which were presided by him, and we met together there. We also met together in the Holy Mass when John Paul II died, and then on the occasion of his beatification – he asked me at that time to preside the Holy Mass for Poles, for diplomatic corpus of the EU in the metropolitan cathedral – and it happened so. During my 17 years of stay in Argentina, there were many cardinals, archbishops and bishops from Poland and each time we were trying to attend an audience with the primate of Argentina, archbishop of Buenos Aires. I also accompanied him in these audiences. So, I can say that I know the present pope Francis a bit. As he showed in the memorable evening on 13 March this year, he is really a very modest man, a real pastor who loves every man. I think that he will be the same pastor of the Universal Church all over the world as he was cardinal, primate and the pastor of the Church in Argentina.

– Why did the new pope choose the name ‘Francis’?

– It was also a surprise for Jesuits. At the beginning it was even thought that he had chosen St. Francis Ksawery as the patron of his pontificate. However, also the general vicar and bishops from Buenos Aires and co-brothers Jesuits confirmed that he had meant the Italian Poor Man – St. Francis of Assisi.

– What does Priest think, what kind of pope Francis will be?

– Knowing him as a cardinal, I noticed how much he loves Christ’s Church and I think that his pontificate will be the prolonging of the mission of John Paul II whom he loved and treated as a saint and Benedict XVI. So, when somebody of liberals expects some changes in the Church, he is surely wrong. Pope Francis will surely lead the Church in this spirit which was represented by blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

– We noticed some misunderstandings connected with some moves of the Argentinian government, among the others, in the matter of the so-called partner marriages. Priest Cardinal was adamant…

– Yes, he was very firm. I regret to say that Argentina is the only country of the Southern America which has partner couples legalised, about which cardinal Bergoglio, the primate of Argentina grieved, against which he was protesting, not hesitating to beg. Certainly, it met with strong criticism from the government. But what Benedict was doing in this sphere, what blessed John Paul II was doing – the same was done by cardinal Bergoglio in Buenos Aires. He was against among the others, homosexual couples, abortion and I think that pope Francis will behave in the same way as the pastor of the Universal Church.

– Please, tell us about the cult of Mary by the Holy Father, because it is for us, Poles, quite an important issue.

– Like all cardinals, cardinal Bergoglio adored Mary. He loved Our Lady, he exercised all celebrations of Mary in the sanctuary of Mary Virgin of Lujan (Virgo de Lujan), who is the patron of Mercosue and the South America. He often gave a testimony of his cult to Mary. He proved it from the logy of the Basilica of St. Peter, saying that next day he would do to pay a tribute to Our Lady and ask in the intention for himself and people entrusted to him.

– So, we are going to have the ‘Polish’, because Mary’s Pope again. And how, as a Pole, does Priest see possibilities of contact with the Holy Father on the Polish ground?

– Cardinal Bergoglio has always, not only in Buenos Aires, but also in Rome and other places, during divine services for emigrants, was very willing to meet with Poles, he welcomed them very cordially and his attitude to those living in Argentina was very warm-hearted. We know that pope Francis comes from an immigrant family, too, and his father arrived from Italy and his family is of Italian origin; his grandparents also originated from Europe.

– So, it means that the relations of pope Francis with Italy are extremely close…

– As it is, Argentina is associated first of all, with Italian emigration, and the Italians domineer here as immigrants. It is difficult to meet a real Argentinian in Argentina.

– Will many Argentinians come to Rome for the inauguration of the pontificate of pope Francis?

– It is nearly a week before the celebration of St. Joseph. The president of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced her personal arrival, there will surely be various delegations, but I do not know whether believers of the Argentinian Church will be able to overcome 11 thousand km so quickly to arrive in the Eternal City.

– However, the Holy Father will arrive in Rio…

– Certainly, it has already been said loudly that the Latin-American Pope will preside over this year’s Youth’s Meeting in Rio de Janeiro…

– …and he will arrive in Argentina on the occasion…

– I do not know whether the protocol will allow him to. The pilgrimage of the youth of the world was announced long time ago, but will the pope be able to pay a visit also to the marginal country….He may postpone it for another occasion.

– After all, he must take the rest of things.

– Exactly, he left with a small suitcase.


"Niedziela" 12/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl