Archbishop Jorge Ignacio García in the studios of Vatican Radio Archbishop Jorge Ignacio García in the studios of Vatican Radio 

Archbishop of Buenos Aires: Argentinians awaiting Pope Francis' visit

Archbishop Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva says the people of Argentina are waiting for a visit from their pastor, Pope Francis.

By Renato Martinez and Christopher Wells

“For me,” says Archbishop Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva, a papal visit to Argentina “means the meeting of the pastor with his people. His people are waiting for him and want to meet with their pastor.”

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires addressed the possibility of the Pope returning to his homeland in an interview with Vatican News' Renato Martinez.

Despite the Pope’s worldwide profile, Archbishop García Cuervo said he felt sometimes Argentinians “have not let Bergoglio be Francis, and have dragged him through the mud of our discussions, and have put him in the midst of our divisions,” seeing him through the lens of local issues.

Instead, the Archbishop says, “I think we are talking about a world leader.”

The first truly Argentine saint

Archbishop García Cuerva is in Rome for the canonization on Sunday of Blessed Antonia Paz de Figueroa, known as Mama Antula, who was known for promoting the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

“The figure of the first Argentine saint,” says the Archbishop, “challenges us as a society and as a Church, so that the model of life she left us does not remain only on the altars.”

Recalling Pope Francis’ exhortation to proclaim the Gospel without “hesitation, reluctance, or fear,” Archbishop García Cuerva said, “I believe Mama Antula embodied that missionary spirit, that daring spirit, that creative spirit of proclaiming the Gospel in her time.”

“Mama Antula,” he emphasized, “is a restless woman who hopefully will make us restless Christians, who hopefully will make us truly embody the Church going forth, as Pope Francis asks us to do.”

The situation in Argentina

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires also commented on the current situation in his country, which faces a poverty rate exceeding 40% and an inflation rate of more than 12%.

“On the one hand, we cannot remain indifferent because for us the poverty indexes and the indigence indexes are telling us about concrete faces, about concrete brothers and sisters who are having a very bad time,” he said. “For years Argentina has unfortunately had these figures, and they must hurt us deeply because, I insist, they are not numbers but concrete faces, and, as I always say, the political, business, and religious leaders, we all have a little responsibility in having reached this situation.”

Hope and Christian joy

Turning to the challenges facing the local Church, Archbishop García Cuervo said Christian joy is the answer to the difficult times the country is experiencing.

Christian joy, he explained, “is not a crude optimism, or, as we say vulgarly, it is not putting a plastic smile on the problems of life. Christian joy has to do with knowing that Jesus accompanies us; it is to be truly aware that he conquered death forever with his resurrection.”

The need for Christian joy, the Archbishop continued, depends on the virtue of hope. “Terrible diagnoses are not necessary; people already know it; people already live it, just by going to the supermarket and collecting the salary at the end of the month, people already know all that.”

The challenge, he said, is to discover “how we can be witnesses of the good news" and how to respond to “the enormous challenge of being convinced that God accompanies our lives, that God is among us, that God has not forgotten the Argentinians, but that He is with us, and that we all have to encourage one another to transform the difficult reality we are living.”

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09 February 2024, 16:31