by Anura Guruge
Do you know the answers to these 12 questions?
1) Within twenty-four hours of Francis’ election the Holy See Press Office confirmed, surprisingly, albeit in the last paragraph of an announcement on the new pope’s activities during his first full day, that when Jorge was a twenty-one year old he suffered from a pulmonary illness (that involved pneumonia and the detection of three cysts in his lungs), which necessitated the removal of the upper part of his right lung. It has since been revealed that the pope, when even younger, suffered from another impediment, one that was not very serious, albeit one that hampered his desire to be able to play soccer at a ‘higher’ level. What was, or is, this impediment?
2) Jorge Mario Bergoglio during his two decades as a bishop, prior to becoming pope, was known to be especially devoted to a well known young female Catholic saint, and even enclosed a small picture of her in the letters he mailed, calling her a ‘great missionary saint’. Who was this saint?
3) Many examples of the newly elected pope’s remarkable humility received considerable worldwide attention during the first few days of his pontificate. Rather than availing himself (as had his predecessor) to the sleek, black papal sedan that had been provided, Francis had chosen to ride back to the Domus Sanctæ Marthæ, for dinner with the cardinals, in one of the shuttle buses, along with some of his electors. On the first full day of his papacy, Francis not only had insisted on carrying his own luggage but had personally settled his bill at the hotel where he had been staying prior to the conclave. A few days later, on March 18, 2014, the pope, to the bemusement but delight of the owner’s son, Daniel Del Regno, telephoned the newspaper kiosk in Buenos Aires that used to deliver his newspapers and very cordially, after conveying his regards to the family, informed him that he would no longer be requiring newspaper delivery. This is now all part of the already rich and inspiring, ‘stuff of legends’, chronicle of Pope Francis. But, what was the ‘hotel’ that the pope had stayed at prior to the conclave – where he had to settle his own bill and picked up his remaining luggage?
4) At what consistory was Jorge Mario Bergoglio created, what was his precedence at this consistory, and who were some of the others created at that consistory that went onto gain considerable fame?
5) According to the pope’s sister, María Elena Bergoglio, who was talking with journalists in March 2014, ‘Jorge Mario’ when attending the archdiocesan seminary of Buenos Aires, the Inmaculada Concepción Seminary (located in the northwestern neighborhood of Villa Devoto), in the late 1950s, when he was in his early twenties, had a pet – he apparently sharing a fondness for this type of pet with a pope of that time. What was the pet that the future pope had when he was attending seminary?
6) Nearly all non-retired cardinals, irrespective of their primary role or where they are based, are assigned as members, with full voting rights, to various curial congregations and pontifical councils – these membership assignments typically reflecting a cardinal’s known expertise or interest. As members of a congregation or council the cardinals assist the head of the dicastery in governing that body particularly when it comes to strategy, direction, tone and agenda. This is a key part of how cardinals help the pope when it comes to running the Church. Thus, Cardinal Bergoglio, though he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires during his entire cardinalate, was assigned as a member to a number of curial diacasteries starting in 2001. These were his only involvements with the curia given that he had never spent much time at all in Rome as a student, priest or prelate. In what dicasteries did Cardinal Bergoglio hold membership?
7) Who were Pope Francis’ parents and who were his siblings?
8) Unlike many who go on to become cardinals, Jorge Mario Bergoglio never studied at a pontifical institute or attended a seminary in Rome, or for that matter Italy. Actually he never, prior to becoming pope, spent that much time in Rome or Italy. However, once a Jesuit he went to four different countries to further his education. What were these four countries?
9) Since his election Pope Francis has chosen, whenever possible, including at his inaugural public appearance, to wear a simple, unadorned white cassock sans an elaborate mozzetta or stole, and to continue using the iron pectoral cross that he had worn when Archbishop of Buenos Aires eschewing the gold ones preferred by prior popes. These sartorial preferences, given their obvious conspicuousness, have received considerable media coverage and are now very much a part of the burgeoning, borderline cultish, Pope Francis’ mystique. However, much less attention has been given to the style of the Fisherman’s Ring Francis chose to wear or that fifteen months into his papacy he changed the style of the pallium he would wear – this the third change to the style of the papal pallium in less than a decade. So, what is the story as to Pope Francis’ Fisherman’s Ring that he received at his installation as well as the latest pallium style he adopted as of Sunday, June 29, 2014, the day of the Saints Peter and Paul Solemnity?
10) On Boxing Day 1958, i.e., December 26th, his first as pope, John XXIII (#262), who the previous day had restored a much cherished papal custom by visiting a children’s hospital, reinstated another by visiting a local prison, viz. Rome’s Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) prison. While there, warmly greeted by the inmates, the irrepressibly personable pope, to the consternation of the Vatican staff, conspiratorially informed the prisoners that one of his brothers had once been incarcerated for poaching. The L’Osservatore Romano, despite the pope’s recent admonishment for it to be more ‘20th century’, opted to omit this revelation in its reporting of the pope’s visit to the prison. Pope Francis, who has professed to his admiration of the ‘Good Pope’ and authorized his canonization, seems to have taken to heart John’s propensity for candor. He has surprised, if not stunned, many during his first sixteen months as pope, by some of his unexpected remarks about gays, atheists and the mafia, which have included (albeit in paraphrased form): ‘who am I to judge them (i.e., gays)’, ‘there is a stream of corruption (within the curia) including a “gay lobby”’, ‘all people who do good works, including atheists, are going to heaven’ and ‘those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated’. However, on March 6, 2014, a week ahead of his first year anniversary as pope, Pope Francis while talking informally with a group of Roman priests about the need to be merciful to their flocks came up with a revelation that might even have had John XXIII in a quandary as to how he should react. What was Pope Francis’ bewildering confession?
11) During his short stay in Germany in 1986 to explore possible topics for a doctoral thesis, as was discussed in #97 above, the future pope saw something that had a profound impact on his psyche. His recounting of what he had seen in Germany has in time led to what some have called a ‘religious craze’ in Argentina and Brazil. What was it that he saw in Germany and what is he credited with inspiring in Latin America?
12) Mahatma ‘Bapu’ Gandhi, the India’s ‘Father of the Nation’, was noted for his utmost reluctance to discard anything manufactured, irrespective of its intrinsic worth. A part of this, of course, had to do with his preferred lifestyle that revolved around simplicity, thrift and a constant identification with the poor. However, as he would also sometimes explain, he also had a tremendous appreciation of and respect for the human toil (especially in his time) that went into the manufacturing of goods. Gandhi could not use manufactured goods without thinking about the labor component that had to have been involved. Consequently he was known to use pencils, sharpening them by hand as needed, until the stubs were too small for him to hold between his fingers. Well, it appears that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, also known for his affinity with the poor and working classes, has Gandhi-like values when it comes to material ‘stuff’, whether they be large or small. So it is no surprise that he uses a donated, 1984 Renault 4L, with 190,000 miles on the clock, as his personal car in the Vatican rather than a newish, luxury sedan. Are you aware of a trait that he had, while Archbishop of Buenos Aires, that provided a wonderful clue as to his attitude towards materialistic goods?
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by Anura Guruge