Irish Argentines, as all the Argentineans – despite their origin - were first shocked and immediately received with great joy the news of the election on the new Pope, Francis I, who was up to then George Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Head of the Argentinean Catholics.
Some of us thought that the new Pope could be of Irish extraction, as two Irish American Cardinals were among the candidates, and we were going to be proud of that. Nonetheless, the first Latin American Pope is something very special for all of us.
Regarding Cardinal Bergoglio, we can recall his willingness to attend any celebration in his dioceses and that among his hierarchy he had Irish descendants, one of them was Mons. José Luis Mollaghan -at present Archbishop of Rosario, Argentina- who might soon replace Bergoglio as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Monsignor Mollaghan speaking about of the election, mentioned that “he is an ordinary man, plenty of faith, who likes to be in contact with the people”.
The fact that the new Pope is the first Jesuit to reach Saint Peter’s place also reminded the Irish-Argentines that many Irish people join that order and that many of them came to Latin America as missionaries. In the XVIth. century Father Thomas Fields, S.J., from Limerick, was the first Jesuit to live in the territory that is now Argentina. He was one of the very first Irish to settle in this part of the world.
Rev. Guillermo Furlong, S. J. (1899-1974), a well known Irish Argentinean Jesuit priest and historian, who had a close relationship with Bergoglio, wrote some time before his death that “he had all the conditions to be a Good Bishop”, as it has been pointed out by Roberto Elissalde, an Argentine historian who is also a regular contributor to the “The Southern Cross”, the oldest Irish newspaper printed outside Ireland (founded 1875). Through its pages there are published many of Bergoglio’s opinions.
On St. Patrick’s Day at Mass, we all prayed for the intentions of the new Pope, and for his forthcoming visit to Argentina. It is a great day for Argentina!
Buenos Aires, March 17th., 2013.