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Cardinal Brenes Solórzano: Pope Francis teaches us to live simply

2014-03-18

A "wonderful and moving experience,” is how newly-created Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes Solórzano described his appointment to the College of Cardinals.

The Nicaraguan prelate said he felt a bit restless when he found out, but he looked to Pope Francis  for guidance.

CARD. LEOPOLDO BRENES SOLÓRZANO
Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua)
"In all truth, after I was told about the Holy Father's decision, I got very nervous because I didn't know how my life as a cardinal would play out. However, the Holy Father showed us how to live it out, how we've always done it so far: with simplicity, and with that shepherd's spirit. As he always tells us, we must be at the front, the middle and the back of the herd, and live out a simple life.”

Card. Brenes Solórzano took part in the climactic 2007 bishops' conference in Aparecida. He said that particular moment was a turning point for the Church in Latin America, giving it a more missionary approach.

CARD. LEOPOLDO BRENES SOLÓRZANO
Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua)
"I feel that at times, for whatever reason, we had settled. But, that's why I say that in 2007, the Holy Spirit shook up the Church in Latin America. I think that, that same spirit brought us Pope Francis, because he, when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario, was in charge of coordinating the drafting of the text, and I think that now he's projecting that experience to the entire world.”

The prelate is the second cardinal ever in the history of Nicaragua. The first is his predecessor Miguel Obando y Bravo. The new cardinal said he was very excited to see Benedict XVI at the ceremony and recalled one of the warm moments they shared some time ago.

CARD. LEOPOLDO BRENES SOLÓRZANO
Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua)
"One beautiful anecdote was when he gave me the pallium. I told him: 'Your Holiness, I ask that you pray for me, since I'll be taking over for Cardinal Obando,' who had been archbishop of Managua for 35 years. And so I said: 'It's very difficult to replace an archbishop of 35 years, who is also a cardinal.' Right then, the Holy Father placed his hands on my shoulders and Pope Benedict told me: 'Don't worry, because the same thing is happening to me.'”

On the day of the Consistory, the new Nicaraguan cardinal was joined by his mother and sisters, but just barely. His family ran into trouble with their flights and nearly missed the ceremony. But in the end, it all worked out, and all of them were able to join the Central American cardinal for this important ceremony.


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