I Prayed He Wouldn’t Be Chosen –Pope Francis’ Sister

L-R: Father, Mario Jose Bergoglio; mother, Regina Maria Sivori; sister, Maria Elena; (back row) l-r: sister, Marta Regina; brother, Oscar Adrian; young Jorge Mario Bergoglio; and brother, Alberto Horacio, in a family photograph.

She did not want her brother to be pope. The thought of it made her pray against it. But God had other plans. And now Maria Elena Bergoglio has to come to terms with the fact that her brother, Jorge Maria Bergoglio, is now the Pope –Pope Francis.

As the Catholic faithful celebrate the emergence of a new spiritual father, amid the shouts of “Long live the pope!” Maria Elena, has only one wish: that the world prays for her him.

“I feel we have to pray a lot for him because we are living in a very troubled world at a difficult time for the church, we need God permanently,” Maria Elena is reported to have told Argentina’s C5N, adding that she still cannot believe her brother was elected Bishop of Rome.

According to her, the 76-year-old former archbishop of Buenos Aires “did not want to be pope” when he finished second in the election to succeed John Paul II in 2005 and so she prayed for him not be elected.

Speaking from her home in Itusaingo, Buenos Aires, she said, “It’s been a really big shock, I am still living it; I was not expecting him to be elected pope. Poor man, the emotions he must have felt hearing the people shout ‘Long live the pope!’” Maria Elena said from her house in Ituzaingo, a city in Buenos Aires province.

Just as she has to live with the election of her brother as pope, Maria Elena believes he also has some adjustments to make to deal in order to carry out his new role, especially since he had never wanted to be pope, himself.

Despite his reluctance, Maria Elena is confident that Pope Franciswill carry out his role with the commitment and dedication it requires as he had always done.

“My brother fulfilled his duties, with increasingly more responsibilities, but I never believed this,” she confessed.

Agencia Informatica Católica Argentina — or the Catholic wire service in Argentina, which spoke to priests and coordinators in slums that surround Buenos Aires, reported that Pope Francis has already been termed “papa de los villeros” or “the pope for the slum dwellers.”

The service reports that during his tenure as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis multiplied the number of priests serving the slums.

“Now his limits won’t be the archdiocese,” Father Pepe told the news outlet. “Now it’s the world and he will have to take up the task in other places like Africa, where there are many who work in favor of the poor.”

Francis, others recount, visited the slums frequently, celebrating mass and washing the feet of drug addicts.

“Everyone here felt very close to him,” the slum priests program coordinator said. “They talk about his way of being. The poor in general are very close to him. He’d visit jails and hospitals; he’d ride the bus and subway. He had a closeness with the street.”

One thing that’s worth highlighting is that in many of the interviews of this piece, the focus is on Francis’ ministering, not necessarily his charity work.

This goes hand in hand with what he said during his first homily today in Rome.

Reuters reports that he urged the church “not to forget its primary mission of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ or risk being reduced to what he called ‘a compassionate NGO.’”

Although she could imagine the emotions and thoughts running through Pope Francis’ mind just before walking out on the balcony before the massive crowd in Saint Peter’s Square in his first appearance as the pontiff, Maria Elena has no clue what her brother’s Papacy would be like.

All she knows is that his inclination has always been to work for the poor, the most marginalised.

News.com.au reported that Maria Elena [in line with her call] offered a prayer “that the Holy Spirit will strengthen” Francis for his new role, and spoke of feeling pride “not only as a family but as the Argentine people.”

It added that Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, is the oldest of five children — three boys and two girls. His three other siblings, Alberto, Oscar, and Marta Regina have already died.
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