«When pope saw Evita» in new book

Sheds light on little-known spells as Jesuit in Cordoba


(ANSA) – Buenos Aires, September 26 – Pope Francis had a youthful brush with Evita Peron in Buenos Aires, according to a new book relating little-known details of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s life, especially two formative spells in the city of Cordoba. «I saw Eva on one occasion when I went with my brother into a ‘unidad basica’ (Peronist chapter) looking for booklets for a piece of work in school», Francis told the authors of Quel Francesco (That Francis), Javier Camara and Sebastian Pfaffen, who handed the pope a copy in the Vatican Thursday. «She was there, she greeted us», said the former archbishop of Buenos Aires. The only time the young Bergoglio saw Evita’s husband Juan Peron, he says in the book, was «when I had to go as school rep to the Teatro Colon for a meeting about education». Quel Francesco delves into two times Francis lived in Cordoba and his encounters with various political groups, including «left-leaning» ones as well as Peronists. The first, when he was a novice of the Company of Jesus (the Jesuits), spans 1958-1960. «In March 1958 he arrived from Buenos Aires accompanied by his parents to enter into the novitiate of the ‘Sagrada Familia’», the book relates, telling of the young man’s expectations. Later, the authors describe the future pope’s development – as well as «dark» patches – as a Jesuit priest between 1990 and 1992, before he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. On the political front, Francis reveals, «I have always been restless». «During my teen years I had made an incursion into left-leaning circles», he says, revealing that he accompanied young people of various political inclinations, including «obviously also Peronists». But the pope stresses: «I never joined any party». However, he cites similarities between aspects of the Peronist doctrine and the Church’s social doctrine. «Those periods in Cordoba, to a certain extent, engendered spiritual solidity», Francis reveals. «First as a novice and then during the two years as a priest which were like a night, with some inner darkness, these phases allowed me to do apostolic work which helped me become more solid as a pastor», the pope says. Several books have been published about Pope Francis and have become instant bestsellers. The first, rushed out after he succeeded Benedict XVI as pope in March 2013, was titled Jorge Bergoglio Pope Francis, The New Pope Tells His Story, A Conversation With Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti. It was a reworking of the two Argentine journalists’ 2010 collection of interviews with the then Buenos Aires archbishop, entitled The Jesuit, in which Bergoglio recalled his early love for the tango, his first girlfriend, his yen for soccer and an early spell as a nightclub bouncer as well as religious matters. Francis’s own complete published works starred at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair including his first encyclical, co-written with predecessor Benedict, as well as all his tweets. Vatican publishing company LEV assembled all Francis’s writings in his previous life as Archbishop Bergoglio. These included Crossing the Threshold of Faith; Only Love Can Save Us; We As Citizens, We As People; Only In Him Hope; and Serving Others. The Light of Faith, an encyclical Francis has acknowledged was mostly written by Benedict before his shock resignation in February 2013, was flanked by everything the new pope had said on his closely watched Twitter account, @Pontifex, as well as most of his public pronouncements, collected as Pope Francis’ Words. The collection included: I Ask You To Pray For Me; Don’t Let Hope Be Stolen From You; The Joy of Evangelisation; and It Is Beautiful For Us To Be Here.