Francis on Benedict: “You Cannot Imagine the Humility and Wisdom of the Man”

Journalist Jorge Milia with his friend, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio

Pope Francis, in a phone call with his friend and former pupil, journalist Jorge Milia, had some high praise for his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Milia recounts the story in an article which appeared in Terre d’America, the blog of Italian journalist Alver Metalli.  Milia reported that the Pope had teased him for sending a long (12-page) letter, and the two had laughed together.  They spoke of many things, including the former pontiff.  When Pope Francis expressed his deep respect for the Pope Emeritus, Milia responded, “Then keep him close.”  Pope Francis agreed, saying, “There is no way I would turn down advice from someone like him, it would be foolish of me to do so.”

Milia continued, explaining how he had chatted at length with “the old… Argentinian”, an affectionate term for his friend.  It is a pleasure, he said, to exchange ideas with him.

Here the Internet translation program fell a little short, converting the Italian article into English with a confused sentence structure; but the meaning, if not the exact wording, is still intelligible.  Milia quoted the Pope as saying, more or less:

And really when it comes to Ratzinger does it with gratitude and tenderness.  To me it’s a bit ‘the effect of one who has found an old friend, a former classmate, those who show up from time to time, and at school attended one or two courses after our and that in some so admired, perhaps with the difference that the time had smoothed, softened.”

Oh, well.  I think he means, “I like him!  I really like him!”


  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    I am a professional translator, and I have to say the software has made an even worse mess than you thought. Here are the relevant passages:

    I told him I’d started reading the encyclical Lumen Fidei and he denied that he had any merit in it. He said that Benedict XVI had done most of the work, that he was a sublime thinker, whom most of the people did not know or understand.

    Today I was with el viejo, the old gentleman … – that’s how he called him, in our Argentinian fashion, with the affectionate sense we give to the word – and we chatted a lot; I find it a pleasure to exchange ideas with him”.

    And really, when he speaks of Ratzinger, he does so with tenderness and gratitude, The way it comes across to me [i.e. the journalist writing the article] is that it is like a man who has come across an old friend, a former schoolfellow whom he used to meet every now and then after school, people who were a course or two behind us in our school years, and whom we somehow admired, maybe in spite of differences – and that time had smoothed over these differences.

    You can’t imagine this man’s humility and wisdom” – he told me.

    Keep him close to you, then…” I answered back.

    The idea of giving up the counsel of such a man does not begin to cross my mind. I would be a fool!”.

    I told him that the difference between them is that people saw him as more human, that they felt they could touch him and talk to him…

    The article then moves away from Ratzinger.

    • heavenly1

      Why thank you for your contribution! You’ve conveyed the information with grace and logic, and I (and my readers) will appreciate it.