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Chaplain talks about what Bergoglio did when an Argentinian priest received death threats

2013-04-06

FR. PEDRO VELASCO
Chaplain, Slums 21 and 24 (Buenos Aires)
"I can personally attest to his concern for priests. It wasn't just those who worked in Argentina's slums, like say Father Juan Gabriel, or Father Enrique de Natividad. Bergoglio would show concern for everyone, regardless of the location they worked in.”

Father Velasco recalls that one priest received death threats in one of the slums he worked in. It was a difficult time for everyone, including those who worked in that area, known as Villa 21.

FR. PEDRO VELASCO
Chaplain Slums 21 and 24 (Buenos Aires)

"Bergoglio showed great courage when the pastor of the local slum parish, Father Pepe, was threatened. Cardinal Bergoglio was very firm and very clear. At that time we were all afraid, and when it was time to celebrate Mass, the fear was still very present. Just like the Bible says, if a pastor is hurt, the flock will disperse. Bergoglio understood this and the fact that he attended the Mass spoke volumes.”

It's precisely in those poor areas that Bergoglio is remembered. Every year on December 8th, he would celebrate a four hour Mass, where he would administer over 200 baptisms, 400 confirmations and 400 first communions. These celebrations were obviously time consuming, but he would enjoy them.

FR. PEDRO VELASCO
Chaplain, Slums 21 and 24 (Buenos Aires)
"He showed a lot of compassion, even with all the baptisms and confirmations, he was in the moment and completely engulfed in its meaning. You need a special type of inner spirituality and life of prayer to carry that out, just as he did.”

Their friendship goes way back. Father Velasco would walk around the neighborhood with the now Pope. When Mass would end at midnight Velasco would drive him home. He's of course proud that one of his friends is the Pope, but also because Cardinal Bergoglio wrote the introduction of a book authored by Velasco's father.


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