Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Pope and the paper-seller

I really liked this story about the Pope and the newspaper seller - which I've just lifted wholesale from The Catholic Newsagency

Pope calls Argentine kiosk owner to cancel paper delivery
A man in Rome holds a newspaper with Pope Francis' picture on it March 14, 2013, the day after the Holy Father was elected. Credit: Mazur/
.- Pope Francis surprised the owner of a kiosk in Buenos Aires with a telephone call to send his greetings and explain that he will no longer need a morning paper delivered each day.
Around 1:30 p.m. local time on March 18, Daniel Del Regno, the kiosk owner’s son, answered the phone and heard a voice say, “Hi Daniel, it’s Cardinal Jorge.”
He thought that maybe a friend who knew that the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires bought the newspaper from them every day was pulling a prank on him.
“Seriously, it’s Jorge Bergoglio, I’m calling you from Rome,” the Pope insisted.
“I was in shock, I broke down in tears and didn’t know what to say,” Del Regno told the Argentinean daily La Nacion. “He thanked me for delivering the paper all this time and sent best wishes to my family.”
Del Regno shared that when Cardinal Bergoglio left for Rome for the conclave, he asked him if he thought he would be elected Pope. 
“He answered me, ‘That is too hot to touch. See you in 20 days, keep delivering the paper.’ And the rest is, well, history,” he said.
“I told him to take care and that I would miss him,” Del Regno continued. “I asked him if there would ever be the chance to see him here again. He said that for the time being that would be very difficult, but that he would always be with us.”
Before hanging up the phone, he added, the Pope asked him for his prayers.
Daniel’s father, Luis Del Regno, said they delivered the paper to the former cardinal’s residence every day.
On Sundays, he said, the cardinal “would come by the kiosk at 5:30 a.m. and buy La Nacion. He would chat with us for a few minutes and then take the bus to Lugano, where he would serve mate (tea) to young people and the sick.”
Among the “thousands of anecdotes” the elder Del Regno remembers is one involving the rubber bands that he put around the newspapers to keep them from being blown away when they were delivered to the cardinal.
“At the end of the month, he always brought them back to me. All 30 of them!” 
He said he gets goose bumps whenever he thinks about Pope Francis’ simplicity.
“In June he baptized my grandson, it was an amazing feeling,” Del Regno said. “I know what he’s like. He’s one of a kind.”

There's a speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar where Brutus describes the way of the ambitious in the world. 
"But when he once attains the upmost round.
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend." 
I must say Pope Francis seems the diametric opposite of what Brutus feared in Caesar. He displays the utterly unfashion-able virtue of humility - which, in the Church's year, we shall see exemplified on Thursday, the night on which Jesus washed his disciples' feet, much to their embarrassment. The service where that is remembered and reenacted was always one of my favourite times.  
As I've said elsewhere I think that the Pope and the new Archbishop of Canterbury are both good news for their Churches. See Religion's premature obituary. The signs are good.

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