Pope praying for health of Argentine Nobel laureate Perez Esquivel
By Devin Watkins
In the latest of his expressions of closeness to those suffering illness, Pope Francis sent a short note on Sunday to an Argentine peace activist as he recovers in hospital.
Adolfo Perez Esquivel suffered an undiagnosed health scare at the start of the new year, and was admitted to hospital in the seaside resort of Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Upon receiving news of his convalescence, the Pope sent a note to Mr. Perez Esquivel through Bishop Gabriel Mestre of Mar del Plata, a city which lies some 400 km to the south of Buenos Aires.
Prayers for a speedy recovery
Pope Francis assured the 90-year-old activist of his “closeness and prayers for [his] speedy recovery.”
The Pope also sent his greetings to Mr. Perez Esquivel’s wife, Amanda Guerreño.
“May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin watch over you,” concluded the Pope.
Bishop Mestre visited Mr. Perez Esquivel in hospital on New Year’s Day, where he remains in stable condition.
They prayed together and the Bishop administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, according to a statement on the diocesan website.
The statement encouraged Catholics to pray for the quick recovery of “this Argentinian committed to peace, the common good, and human rights.”
Denouncing oppression of the poor
Mr. Perez Esquivel, an artist and writer, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his pacifist activism against the military dictatorship which ruled Argentina from 1976 until 1983.
He received the Prize while on probation following a 14-month-stint in prison at the hands of the military junta whose oppressive tactics he had spoken out against.
Mr. Perez Esquivel accepted the Peace Prize in name of “the people of Latin America,” and denounced a social system that favored only a few.
“Institutionalized violence, misery, and oppression enshrine a social order that benefits very few: the rich get richer at the expense of the poor getting poorer,” he said in his acceptance speech.
Only two days later, Mr. Perez Esquivel survived an assassination attempt. He went on to further the cause of human rights through art and his newspaper “Peace and Justice”.
A native of Buenos Aires, Mr. Perez Esquivel was received in a private audience with Pope Francis just a few days after the papal election in March 2013.