Bergoglio prays at the tomb of this 12th-century Pontiff who "did not allow himself to be locked up" by "no logic of power"
In a visit that, when announced last spring, led to rumors about his eventual desire to resign the pontificate, Francis traveled this Sunday to L'Aquila, a city in central Italy, where he prayed in front of the tomb of Celestine V. , the Pope who went down in history for voluntarily abandoning the pontifical see at the end of 1294. He is considered the first bishop of Rome to make this extreme gesture, which took only five months after his election, fed up with the weight of the position and the Vatican intrigues. Even Dante reminds him in the 'Divine Comedy', in which he speaks of Celestine V as the Pope "who vilely committed the great rejection" and places him in the hall of hell, along with those who did not take sides for lack of courage.
With his visit to L'Aquila, Francis, 85, followed in the footsteps of Benedict XVI, who also prayed in front of the tomb of Celestine V and even left his first pallium as a pontiff there as a gift, the white wool band worn over the shoulders. It was in 2009, four years before surprising the world by following in his footsteps for not feeling strong enough to continue leading the Catholic Church. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has repeatedly repeated in recent months that "for the moment" he has no intention of resigning, allowed himself to correct Dante in L'Aquila by vindicating the figure of Celestino V, who, according to what he said, "was not the man of the 'no'”, as the father of the Italian language presents him, but rather “the man of the 'yes'”. He applauded him for his integrity in the face of "the logic of this world" and for "not letting himself be trapped or carried away" by "no logic of power."
Praising the courage shown by this bishop of Rome at the end of the 13th century, he said of him that he gave "full witness" to mercy and that he was an example of a Church "free from worldly logic." These two are elements that Bergoglio has raised on numerous occasions as cardinal points of his pontificate, whose departure he will render an account of at the meeting of cardinals convened this Monday and Tuesday in the Vatican. This unusual event, in which about 200 cardinals will participate, is seen as a kind of pre-conclave, since it will allow the ground to be prepared for the moment in which the members of the College of Cardinals have to elect a new Pope. Many of them are barely known.
Francis took advantage of his brief stay in L'Aquila, where he participated in the Feast of Forgiveness instituted by Celestine V and opened the Holy Door, to remember the earthquake that struck this city and shook the whole of central Italy in 2009, leaving more than 300 dead. In a wheelchair and wearing a helmet, he visited some of the buildings damaged by the tremor, such as the cathedral, which is not yet open to the faithful, and asked to give a boost to the reconstruction, since thirteen years after the earthquake there is still much to do. He urged the institutions to work with "collaboration" and to have a "long-term" view, since the future "of our children and grandchildren" is at stake.
A missionary in Mongolia, the youngest cardinal
In Mongolia, whose population is largely Buddhist, there are fewer than 1,500 Catholics, but one of them is a cardinal. His name is Giorgio Marengo and he is the apostolic prefect (a position equivalent to that of a bishop in the mission lands) of Ulaanbaatar, who this Saturday received the cardinal's cap and ring in the consistory presided over by Pope Francis in the basilica of San Pedro del Vatican. At 48 years of age, this Italian missionary from the Consolata congregation is the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. «I feel small, very small, and eager to learn from cardinals much more experienced than me, who have a very long ecclesial life, full of many experiences and much knowledge. So I really want to listen to all those who have more experience than me, "explained Marengo in the magazine 'Missioneros'.
For this prelate who has been in Mongolia since 2003, whose local Catholic Church celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, the fact that Francis has decided to appoint him cardinal is a sign of his attention "for those realities in which the people of God are a minority absolute that lives with great humility being able to be a Christian». In his opinion, "if the Pope has looked to this remote corner of the world to elect a cardinal, he confirms that his heart is truly missionary, attentive to marginal and minority realities," he declared in 'Vida Nueva'. Although he acknowledged that few in Mongolia knew at first how to interpret what his entry into the College of Cardinals meant, the local media echoed the news. The new cardinal also showed his desire that his appointment serve to value the experience of humility and dialogue of the tiny Catholic community in Mongolia.