During a recent radio interview given to a station in a slum of Argentina, Pope Francis explained his frequent request for prayers, and praised the work of the many priests who minister among the poor.
When asked why he so frequently requests prayer from those he encounters, the Pope simply stated that “I need it. I need the people of God to sustain me.”
The interview was given to Argentinian radio station Bajo Flores, which broadcasts from the slum called the “Villa 1-11-14” in Buenos Aires, and which is close to the San Lorenzo soccer stadium, where Pope Francis’ favorite team plays.
Entitled “El Papa de los villeros,” or “Pope of the slums,” the interview contains 12 questions regarding the presence of the Church among the poor and marginalized.
Broadcast on Thursday March 13, coinciding with the pontiff’s one year anniversary as Bishop of Rome, the interview was originally filmed two weeks prior in the Pope’s residence at the Vatican’s Saint Martha house, and was shown on a large screen in the slum’s gymnasium, with hundreds flocking to see the message, Zenit news reports.
Speaking also of the involvement of the “slum priests” of Buenos Aires in the lives of the poor, the pontiff expressed that their work “is not ideological, it's apostolic, and therefore forms part of the same Church.”
“Those who think that it's another Church don't understand how they work in the slums. The important thing is the work.”
While still living in Buenos Aires before being elected Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis was also very involved in the Argentinian slums, assigning priests to parishes around the city’s capitol, and gaining popularity among the marginalized, especially during the country’s military dictatorships in the 1960s and 70s.
Pope Francis was also asked for his thoughts on Fr. Carlos Mugica, who was labeled a communist subversive, but who spoke out against armed revolution before he was murdered in 1974.
Referring to Fr. Mugica, as well as other members of Argentina’s Movement for Third World Priests, which is a branch of liberation theology, the Pope stated that “They were not communists. They were great priests who fought for life.”
Also giving special comments regarding education, those in prison and the media, the pontiff asserted the importance of a good education, stating that “one has to accompany young people in their growth.”
On the topic of prisoners, Pope Francis questioned “Why is he imprisoned and not me?” adding that “they are making their path of life, completing their penance, but they are people of flesh and bone, like you and like me.”
In regards to the media, the pontiff explained that it is a “warm and disinterested way of communicating reality and life.”
When asked what was the thing he liked least about his role as Pope, the pontiff stated "paperwork" and "officework," noting that it is something he has never been good with.
Before the Pope’s interview was shown, a special Mass was celebrated in his honor by the slum’s parish priest, Fr. Gustavo Carrara, who stated that “We are going to dedicate this Mass to our Pope Francis, who knows the neighborhood,” which has a “little place in his heart,” Spanish paper Sociedad reports.
The altar used for the ceremony was a school bench, the paper noted, adding that above the altar there were two candles, an image of the Pope, a chalice, a ciborium, and the Missal.