The real story behind a real priest called Jorge


The real story behind a real priest called Jorge


The new Pope has sparked enthusiasm among millions of faithfulThe new Pope has sparked enthusiasm among millions of faithful

Andrea Tornielli’s brand new biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio is out. It tells his life’s story so far, from his Italian roots to the future of his pontificate

paolo mastrolilli

Now the story can finally be told. In the morning of March 13th this year, before attending the paper’s editorial meeting, I had my usual chat with Andrea Tornielli to discuss ideas and suggestions to be developed.


It was a complicated day because cardinals were locked inside the Sistine Chapel for the Conclave and there was no way of knowing what was going on in there. As usual, however, Andrea Tornielli had a solution. He had been able to reconstruct cardinal’s positions as they entered the Conclave, in quite a lot of detail. This made it possible for us to publish a behind-the-scenes analysis of the election process that was underway with an original title: the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had started out with many more votes than be was believed to have just before the Conclave; so he went from being an outsider to a protagonist in the hours before the smoke started billowing from the Sistine Chapel chimney. The day before, Andrea had insisted that we add the Argentinean cardinal to the shortlist of papabili – there were six of them – who were most likely to be elected. So I suggested to colleagues in Turin that they look into Bergoglio’s Piedmontese background.


The rest is history. That evening at 19:05 the smoke turned white and shortly afterwards Cardinal Tauran announced that the new Pope was Georgium Marium…


I don’t wish to seem vain by telling this story – vanity would seem ridiculous now anyway  – my intention is simply to demonstrate Tornielli’s knowledge and professionalism. The same qualities that are reflected in the pages of “Francesco Insieme” (Francis Together) published by Edizioni Piemme (12, 90 Euro), out today. It tells the surprising story of the new Pope’s life so far.


The book’s 179 pages are crammed with fresh and interesting information as few Vatican correspondents have had the privilege to get to know Bergoglio up close as Tornielli did before he was elected. Tornielli takes us behind the scenes of Benedict XVI’s resignation and especially the Conclave, revealing moments no one knows about. He tells us who this priest called Jorge, who now dresses in white but still wears the same old worn black shoes he wore when he used to take the metro to go and meet the poor in the “villas miserias”, Buenos Aires’ slums.


 He guides us towards the discovery of Bergoglio’s roots: the son of Italian immigrants was brought up living the simple life that is winning the world over today. He reveals the secrets of his vocation, the confession that changed his life and the difficult dictatorship years when he ran great risks trying to save the lives of those persecuted. He introduces us to the poor whom Bergoglio always saw as “the treasure of the Church” and now, as Pope, inspired his name and his papacy’s programme. Finally, Tornielli predicts what Pope Francis’ papacy will be like and how it will change the course of history.


It’s rare to read such a fascinating story and discover at the end that you have also learnt about the theology, philosophy and spirit of a person. This is what happens to faithful when Francis preaches with “that look of tenderness and mercy” in his eyes.

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2 comments on “The real story behind a real priest called Jorge

  1. I’ll just wait for the Readers’ Indigestion micro-edition to come out…

    “First, he was born. Then he became a teenager.

    “So, whaddy’a gonna do today, Jorge?”

    “Join the Jesuits then become pope.”

    “At-sa nice boy.”

    Buncha stuff happens….

    “So, whaddy’a wanna be called?”


    “Ennything else?”

    “Yeah, sell the place an’ all the stuff. ‘Specially those old vestments! Ay, caramba!”

  2. “makes him feel his own human limitation.”

    Well at least his abdication excuse is established early on.

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