It’s the Bergoglio effect. While some scholars and websites – who were declared papists up until a month ago – continue to criticise the new Pope, whose sobriety in comparison to Benedict XVI has not gone down well with them, the wave of fondness for Francis has also not stopped.
This fondness is not down to a media infatuation: droves of people approached the sacrament of confession again at Easter, struck by Bergoglio’s words about forgiveness and mercy. Numerous Italian parish priests and ordinary priests can attest to this.
“There has been a considerable increase in the number of people who have started asking for confession again,” said Fr. Paolo Padrini (45), parish priest of Stanzanno, a village in the Northern Italian province of Alessandria. He mentioned one elderly cateshist in particular, who following his sermon, quoted Bergoglio: “you smell like your flock… My altar boys heard the Pope’s sermon at the Casal del Marmo prison for young offenders, in video streaming and were struck by his reference to the “caress of God.”
“A lot of people I confessed I hadn’t seen for a long time – Fr. Domenico Sirtori, parish priest of the Church of San Maurizio on Solbiate, a village in the Northern Italian province of Varese. “They told me they came because they felt they could relate to the new Pope. People had felt the Church as something distant from them. It is as if Francis had burnt away that distance, that invisible wall which the media had helped create.”
People really liked the new Pope’s “bow before the crowd just after his election, when he asked them to pray for him,” Fr. Sirtori went on to say. “People were struck by the simplicity of his language, by his “good evenings” and “Enjoy your lunches”. Many young people searched for information on Bergoglio on the web and came to the conclusion that the way he acts is not premeditated but due to the fact he is used to working with the poor.”
Fr. Maurizio Botta, an Oratorian at San Filippo Neri and confessor at Rome’s Chiesa Nuova, said Francis’ words about mercy touch “the heart deeply” but also recalled that many are “mortified by the distinction between the former and current Pope.” And the media have placed a great deal of emphasis on this contrast.
“Pope Francis’ message had an immediate impact,” said Fr. Salvatore Vitiello, a priest from the Northern Italian city of Turin who teaches at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The new Pope has not just “transmitted enthusiasm but openness of heart as well: many came to confess, inspired by the words of God who never gets tired of forgiving, words which they heard during the new Pope’s Angelus…Francis communicates through images and this has really struck people.”
Welcome to the Blog! I am a Salesian of Don Bosco and was ordained to the priesthood on August 26, 2000. I hope this site is a place of interest for you where you will find ideas and information on the Catholic faith and on Salesianity.