By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
The letter, which is written in Spanish, is essentially a thank you note for the greetings and prayers he received from the people of Argentina on the 5th anniversary of his election to the papacy. These expressions of goodwill came not only from the country’s authorities but, in Pope Francis’ own words, “from people of different religious, political and ideological backgrounds”.
Prayers and asking forgiveness
In the second paragraph of the letter, which was made public by the Argentine Bishops’ Conference at the Pope’s request, Pope Francis adds a very personal note when he speaks of his “great and intense” love of his country for which, he says, “I pray every day”. He goes on to ask forgiveness of “those who may be offended by some of my gestures”. “Although God entrusted me with such an important task, and helps me”, explains the Pope, “He did not free me from human frailty”.
Participating in his mission
Pope Francis invites his fellow Argentinians to participate in his mission, when he suggests: “If ever you are pleased about things I do well, I want you to feel like they are your own. You are my people, the people who trained me, prepared me, and offered me to serve others… Remember the Lord has called one of you to bring a message of faith, mercy, and fraternity to many corners of the earth”.
The Pope then asks all Argentinians to be “channels of goodness and beauty, so that you can make your contribution in the defense of life and justice”, sowing peace and fraternity, improving the world, and taking care of the weakest.
One last request
Pope Francis concludes the letter with his usual request for prayers, but with one distinction: “As always”, he writes, “I ask those who have faith to pray for me – and those who do not have faith, I beg you to wish me good things… With the affection of a brother and father, Francisco”.