Cardinal friend to Pope Francis: “You’re not the same guy”

John Allen has some fascinating details about the papal election and the “mystical experience” of the night he was elected, in NCR:

I published a column Oct. 4 in which I quoted a cardinal on background (not an American) who recently had a private session with Francis. This cardinal said he’s been struck by the more free-wheeling and spontaneous style Francis has demonstrated as pope, in comparison to the fairly restrained and shy manner he exhibited in public in Argentina, and told me that he had said to the pope point-blank, “You’re not the same guy.”

According to the cardinal, the pope’s reply was more or less the following: “When I was elected, a great sense of inner peace and freedom came over me, and it’s never left me.”

We got additional details from an interview Rosica recently conducted with Monsignor Dario Viganò, director of the Vatican Television Center, for Salt and Light. (It can be found here:

Viganò was inside the Vatican in the moments immediately after Francis’ election, and before the new pope stepped out to greet the world. He says that when Francis left the Sistine Chapel to walk toward the balcony, he had his eyes down, he wasn’t smiling, he didn’t say anything to the cardinals, and was as if he were carrying “an enormous burden.”

Then, however, Francis stepped into the Pauline Chapel, where a throne had been set up for him to use for prayer. Instead, Francis asked the two cardinals walking with him, Jean-Louis Tauran (who made the Habemus Papam announcement) and Agostino Vallini (the vicar of Rome) to sit with him in the chapel’s back pew.

The pope had a few moments of silent prayer, and, according to Viganò, describing what he saw, “he stands up, turns around, and at that moment he’s a different person.”

“It’s as if God had said to him personally, ‘Don’t worry, I’m here with you’,” Viganò said.

Those moments were filmed, Viganò said, though they haven’t yet been broadcast.

Read it all, including more on the Scalfari interview.

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