Click here for the interview in Spanish
Clique aquí para leer la entrevista en español
Fr Mario Poli (he likes to be called Father and not Monsignor) is the archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina). He was appointed by Pope Francis as his successor in that archdiocese after his election.
I met Mario when he was auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. He was on his way to Xai-Xai (Mozambique) to visit a diocesan priest from Buenos Aires. In the "Bergoglio" style (we would say today) seeing the cost of a flight from Buenos Aires to Maputo, he decided to fly to Johannesburg and continue by bus. He needed a place to stay for the night and I welcomed him in the Catholic Church in Daveyton (Johannesburg) where I was based at that time. I welcomed him again one week later when he was on his way back. From that time we remained in touch and each time I went to Argentina he would organise a meeting with priests or lay people so that I could share something of our journey in this part of the world.
When I was appointed Bishop, Mario wrote saying he would give me the ring as his gift. I explained it was being given by the "Propagation of Faith" in Rome. He then decided to send me a container for the Chrism the bishop uses frequently at ordinations, confirmations, consecration of a church... In fact it arrived the day before I was ordained and we used it at the celebration.
This year we had lunch together and we were able to catch up on his new appointment as archbishop and mine as administrator of the diocese of Manzini.
I have just found an interview done to him in Buenos Aires by AICA (the Catholic News Agency in Argentina). It is about his appointment and some (of the many) stories about Pope Francis.
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The Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, Monsignor Mario Poli, told stories of his two meetings with Pope Francisco and said Jorge Mario Bergoglio is "happy" and "excited" with his mission as Pope, and recognize that even changed the "mourning face" he had before the papal election. The prelate gave details of his last conversations with the Pope, some very witty, held on, Saturday August 31, as part of the festivities in San Ramon Nonato sanctuary.
"The Pope is full of enthusiasm. His face here was ... we'd say ... Did you see when the children get very capricious and say "never a joy to me"? Is the phrase Mom: "Here there's never a joy!". Well, that's what we'd tell the Pope "Here never a joy, always this mourning face!" A face so grim (but with a heart of gold). He was going to the slums. In the slums there are two sacraments to celebrate ... or better three sacraments: the Eucharist, Confirmation and "photos". One has to look like the McDonald's toy for an hour and a half when every family wants to take the picture. And one priest told him, "If you are coming with that face, you're gonna ruin all the pictures." He said that to the current Pope.
Today instead he smiles all the time. We joke at him saying "in Buenos Aires nothing and here you seem to be celebrating Easter all the time". Pope Francis replies: "it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit".
The links above take you to the full interview... in Spanish!