VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis lives very simply, brings a pastoral approach to his ministry and is a man of prayer, according to the Vatican’s Press Office director.
Father Thomas Rosica, the English-language assistant for the Vatican Press Office, told journalists at a hastily arranged March 13 press briefing that he talked to Pope Francis this past Sunday.
“Sunday night we were out for a walk, and he pulled me over. He took me by the hand and said, ‘I want you to pray for me. I’m a little nervous right now.’”
In February 2001, Father Rosica was at a meeting in Buenos Aires of the bishops from throughout Latin America to promote World Youth Day in Canada. He was told that Archbishop Bergoglio was going to celebrate Mass for the people at the meeting.
“So I went in earlier and sat and prayed in the back. And I saw this man come in with a simple black cassock and (who) knelt in front of me and prayed for the longest time. And then when he came out in the procession, it was the archbishop.”
Later, he told Father Rosica that he lived “very simply in an apartment in Argentina,” where he took care of “a handicapped Jesuit.”
Pope Francis also has said that he cooks for himself and rides the bus to work.
For his part, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said that he is still “shocked” at the news that a fellow Jesuit was elected Pope.
Father Lombardi said he does not know the new Pope well — although he met him once at a general congregation of the Jesuits — but that one could see his simple spirituality and pastoral sense in his first remarks.
“I didn’t expect it to be white this evening. The choice shows courage on the part of the cardinals. It’s the first time we have a Pope from another continent,” Father Lombardi remarked.
Pope Francis will be inaugurated on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, at 9:30am in St. Peter’s Square.