Prayers and love best birthday gifts for Pope Francis
|A 1998 photo of the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio with Fr 'Pepe' de Paola - AFP.|
(Vatican Radio) Birthday wishes have been pouring in from across the globe in celebration of Pope Francis’ 80th on Saturday, 17 December.
Amongst those toasting to the Pope in an especially ‘personal’ way, are the impoverished residents of the villas miserias – or shanty towns - in Buenos Aires who always looked to the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, as their pastor.
Francis’ ‘right-hand-man’ in the field was Father ‘Pepe’ Di Paola, who continues to carry out his mission with the poorest of the poor in Argentina’s capital city. He spoke by telephone to Vatican Radio about Jorge Bergoglio and ‘his’ people.
First of all, Father Pepe says, I would like to wish Pope Francis the possibility of continuing to pursue his priestly vocation in solidarity and in communion with the poor and in deep union with the Church and the Gospel.
“May he go ahead in his mission to walk in the spirit of the Gospel which is what the Church is in need of” he says.
As for his birthday, Father Pepe reveals, Francis does not particularly like being made a fuss of. For example, he says, when the children and young people here in our vocational school used to make gifts for him, they knew he would give them away… but that was ok! It’s not that he didn’t appreciate the gift, what was important for him was that it was made by the children themselves and that they would want to be with him.
And exactly because they know him, Father Pepe says, what the poor people here in Argentina are doing for his birthday is praying for him. Because they love him very much.