For Father Ciro Libanati, also a fellow Argentine, the positive response has more to do with Bergoglio’s record of living simply and humbly, and also his Jesuit background.
“I knew about the man and his way of life which challenged me then, and now even more,” said Fr. Libanati, pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish in Victorville. “The fact that he rode the bus and the underground and lives simply is not just a sign of his humility but of his intelligence.
“I guess it goes with being a Jesuit, an order for which I developed a great respect since the time my parents took me to visit the Jesuit mission ruins in the northeast of Argentina as a kid.”
Pope Francis continued to emphasize the importance of humility and care for the poor when he urged Argentinians not to travel to Rome for his Inauguration Mass but instead to give the monies they would have spent traveling to the poor. Just hours before the Mass Pope Francis called a large gathering in Argentina to tell them he loves them and needs their prayers.
“Do not forget this bishop who is far but loves you a lot” and “pray for me” were the last words of the message he delivered with a 3:30 a.m. telephone call.
Thousands of his countrymen gathered at the Plaza de Mayo in the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, to watch his installation Mass on huge television screens placed across the cathedral.
“I know you are in the square. I know you are praying, and I need your prayers a lot,” said Pope Francis on March 19, just two hours before the Mass in Rome was set to begin.
It is “so beautiful to pray,” he remarked, inviting his fellow Argentinians to “walk together” with him.
CNA/EWTN contributed to this article.