Confidant calls Pope Francis a changed man

Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, a veteran Latin American prelate and one of two members from the continent on Pope Francis’ council of cardinal advisors says the pontiff today is a changed man, coming off as far more “communicative” and “approachable” than the “shy” Archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina he once knew.

Globe: During the first 18 months of his pontificate, Francis shocked the world countless times. Having known the then cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and having worked with him in Aparecida and through the CELAM (the Latin-American episcopal conference), do you share the surprise or is he what you were expecting?

Errázuriz: Cardinal Bergoglio was the coordinator of the welcoming commission and was the head of the group that had to write the final document of the encounter celebrated seven years ago in the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. Those conclusions are a treasure that he carries in his heart. Some of those, he took as God’s gift for him and the church. I’m sure there are other conclusions that are a result of his own pastoral experience, undoubtedly blessed by God. Knowing this, many of his words aren’t new for me.

But I am surprised by his gestures. They place him so close to the people, and he is always so cordial. His love for sobriety, simplicity and poverty is also new to me. I have to admit that in Aparecida he wasn’t as communicative nor did he seem so approachable. There is no doubt that many of the bishops saw this man as one of a profound faith, but also as someone shy. After he was elected pope, a cardinal mentioned this visible change to him. And Francis answered: “It’s true. I believe the Holy Spirit has changed me”.

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