Very good insight into our new pope and how he might govern, a superb interview from the National Catholic Reporter.
“Buenos Aires, Argentina – For all those curious as to whether Pope Francis can deliver the reform of the Roman Curia that was so much in the air during the pre-conclave period, the right person to ask would probably be someone who knows the Vatican from the inside out, and who also watched then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio work in Argentina.
“Is that’s the profile, few people fit it better than Fr. Pedro Brunori, a priest of Opus Dei who currently works as a hospital and university chaplain outside Buenos Aires, and who previously put in eight years in Rome as director of the Vatican Information Service.
“Brunori sat down April 2 for an interview with NCR. (It was above and beyond the call of duty, given that April 2 is a national holiday in Argentina commemorating the fallen in the 1982 Falklands War, known here as the Guerra de las Malvinas.)
“According to Brunori, Francis is well positioned to deliver a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy for four reasons:
•He’s got a good eye for talent, and is able to delegate responsibility without surrendering ultimate accountability for making decisions.
•He doesn’t just appoint ‘yes men,’ but people who often have different ideas from his own, as long as they’ve got the right skills set to do the job.
•He makes sure that aides have direct personal communication with the boss, even picking up the phone and calling them directly to talk through important matters.
•His personality is such that a palpable simplification of structures and procedures will happen almost automatically.
“Brunori, 62, was born in Buenos Aires. In addition to Francis’ profile as a governor, he discussed the future pope’s relationship with liberation theology, his attitude toward the laity, his preference for handling things quietly rather than making a lot of noise, and the transformation that seems to have come over Bergoglio as pope – from an archbishop known in Argentina for being a bit stiff and reserved on the public stage, to the smiling and charismatic “pastor of the world.”
“Brunori also expressed the view that over time, the greatest resistance to Francis inside the church is likely to come from the right rather than the left. Some conservatives, he said, may “misunderstand” the pope’s penchant for simplification as stripping away some of the essentials of the faith.
“The interview with Brunori took place in Italian. The following is an NCR translation of extracts from the conversation.
“What was Cardinal Bergoglio’s attitude toward liberation theology?
“He always saw the people who live in the slums from a different point of view. His interest wasn’t in resolving structural problems with the economy, but helping these people address the concrete problems of their lives. It was a pastoral perspective. He wasn’t trying to promote a particular theology, but to help people grow in their personal dignity. For example, when he visited an Opus Dei school in a poor area of Buenos Aires, his interest was in how the church can promote human development through education. That school also helps people develop in the faith by getting married in the church, participating in the sacraments, and so on, and he saw that as promoting their development too. He wanted to enhance the human level of these people, of their families.
“One can certainly understand the great injustices that gave rise to liberation theology, but sometimes it was missing the dimension of personal charity, of concern for the concrete person in front of you. That’s the sense in which I think the pope tried to orient the pastoral work in the slums of Buenos Aires. His idea was the every single one of those people ought to interest the church, equally. He actually walked in these places. I remember one time he was in the slums and one of the priests who works there said to him, joking, ‘They know you better than me!’ He was always read to serve, because he had a great commitment to pastoral work.”