He donned a simple white cassock. No red shoes, just his scruffy black oxfords he wore to his office in Buenos Aires. He asked the crowd to bless him first. He took the name ‘Francis’, after the great saint from Assisi, who called the church back to the original simplicity of its Founder. He didn’t mind being called “Papa Pancho.” On Holy Thursday he went to a local detention center and washed the feet of twelve young prisoners—two women, one Moslem, among them. On Easter Sunday, he shunned his popemovil and plunged into the streets, kissing babies, hugging children. Was it all a charade?
We don’t know yet. There is such a longing for a holy man, a father figure to give us direction, to call our best sides forth, to discipline the leaders, to start anew.
My friend from Argentina claims all this is pure marketing. Bergoglioli always wanted to be Pope. And now he is. Papa Pancho will be the best show in town until the tinsel fades. Elena laughs. “It’s true he’s humble. He took the name Francis. If he were a real Argentine, he would have taken the name Jesus-the-Second.”