VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis told the apostolic nuncio to Argentina to ask his countrymen not to travel to Italy for the ceremony that will begin his pontificate.
“Tell the bishops and the faithful to make an offering and an act of solidarity to the poor with the money instead,” said the Vatican’s press office director, Father Federico Lombardi.
Father Lombardi spoke March 15 with the nuncio, Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, who confirmed that Pope Francis had telephoned him on the night of his election.
“But those who know him find this very normal, since it is his style,” said Father Lombardi at the Vatican’s media center.
“I don’t think he forbade it, he just said it wasn’t necessary for people to come to his installation Mass,” he added.
Archbishop Tscherrig also said that people in Buenos Aires “are breathing a big atmosphere of joy and of prayer.”
“He said a lot of people are going to church and that in the parish where Pope Francis normally offers Mass, the parish priest told the nuncio that he spent the whole day confessing, including many people who haven’t been to confession in 15 or so years,” said Father Lombardi.
“It’s a beautiful moment of grace, of a lot of joy and of a lot of spiritual vitality for the Church now in Argentina,” he remarked.
Father Lombardi, who like Pope Francis belongs to the religious order of the Society of Jesus, also added that he thinks the Pope will be dispensed from one of the order’s four vows.
The Jesuits vow to live lives of poverty, charity, obedience, and specifically obedience to the pope with regard to mission work.
“Evidently he doesn’t have a pope to obey, so I think the election of Pope Francis dispenses him from this vow,” he said.