Six years ago, on March 13th 2019, the Pope “from the ends of the earth” stepped out onto the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica to the cheers of the tens thousands of people in St Peter’s Square.
On this the anniversary of the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the ad interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti looks back at those six years, saying that “love, mercy and courage are the key words to understanding this pontificate.”
Reflecting on election night, he says, “the first thing that comes to me was amazement, surprise. I think the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a complete surprise for all of us; I remember the expression of amazement when the Camerlengo announced the name of Bergoglio and Francis; surprise because [he is] the first Pope with the name of Francis, the first Jesuit, the first Latin American.”
Gisotti goes on to tell Vatican News, that with this pontificate “we are really witnessing God’s surprises”, in what the Pope says and in what he does.
In his job, the ad interim Director has seen at first-hand how Pope Francis interacts with the people he encounters. He gives an example of the Pope’s Papal Visit to Panama for World Youth Day, saying, “to see the emotion, people crying, people crying when encountering Pope Francis, his proximity, above all to the poor; to the ill persons, to the weakest, is a manifestation, truly the manifestation of the love, the mercy of Jesus, of God and the people feel it.”
The Press Office Director says that what strikes him is, that along with this witness of mercy and love is Pope Francis’ courage to confront the most difficult of issues.
He calls to mind the Pope’s commitment to dialogue for peace and above all, the Pope’s commitment “to fight this terrible scourge of the sexual abuse of minors. This commitment for me is an example for all of us to confront, without fear, the most difficult challenges.”