Photo: Pope embraces disfigured man

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Pope embraces disfigured manNot too long ago, he might have been forced to earn a living in a “freak show.” But on Thursday, a man suffering from neurofibromatosis — the same condition that afflicted Joseph Merrick, an Englishman who was billed as The Elephant Man — was welcomed by Pope Francis at the end of a general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Continue reading

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Romeo and Juliet, Jorge and Amalia

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Well, that didn’t take long.

The media in Buenos Aires have tracked down a woman who says she’s the long lost love of Pope Francis. Amalia, who has only been identified by her first name, still gets emotional when she talks about the boy in her neighborhood, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, even though their romance was, she acknowledges, “just a little thing.”

It was their parents who kept the star-crossed “lovers” apart. The desperate Jorge wrote Amalia a letter, proposing marriage. “If I can’t marry you, I’ll become a priest,” Amalia recalls Jorge as saying. Fearing the wrath of her father, she did not reply.

They were 12.

“I have nothing to hide, as it was a thing between children and totally pure,” Amalia said.

Jorge, by the way, did not immediately get himself to a seminary. He only decided to become a priest when he was 21. But if Amalia can be believed, perhaps he’d been contemplating the religious life for a while.

 

h/t The Telegraph

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Viva il Papa, the subway rider

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In 2008, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (second from left) rides the subway in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "Padre Jorge" was known for taking public transport while archbishop. — AP | Pablo Leguizamon

In 2008, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (second from left) rides the subway in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Padre Jorge” was known for taking public transport while archbishop. — AP | Pablo Leguizamon

 

Eight years ago, the elevation of the German cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, to the papacy was met with derision by both serious and frivolous British papers. “God’s Rottweiler,” blared the front page of the Daily Telegraph. It’s not often that the liberal Guardian falls into line with the sassy but conservative Sun, but on Pope Benedict they agreed: “From Hitler youth to the Vatican,” said  The Guardian. “From Hitler Youth to… Papa Ratzi,” screamed The Sun.

Newspaper editors reflect their environment and know their readers.  In 2005, the blitzed British had a knee-jerk — i.e., a Basil-Fawlty-like goose-step — reaction to a German pope.

Maybe it’s impossible to make fun of Francis, the Argentine Jesuit who passed on the perks that came with being a cardinal — the chauffeur-driven car, the palace, the chef. Continue reading

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