A discussion with Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix Eduardo A. Nevares about newly elected Pope Francis.
Jose Cardenas: Thank you for joining us. Phoenix Catholics expressed joy when they learned Pope Francis is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to lead the church. He is also the first to take the name Francis, in honor of saint Francis of Assisi. Joining me tonight to discuss his thoughts about pope Francis is the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, Eduardo Bishop, welcome back to "Horizonte." It's been a couple of years. That was shortly after you joined this diocese. It's good to have you back.
Eduardo Nevares: thank you.
Jose Cardenas: As we mentioned in the introduction, this Pope's selection was greeted with joy. That's not unusual whenever you have a new Pope. But this seems to be different. There is a genuine sense of hopefulness that is greater than usual. What's your sense?
Eduardo Nevares: Several points that you have already mentioned. This is a historic moment. The first time in 600 years that a Pope has resigned the office. The first time in the history of the church that a Jesuit has been elected Pope. The first time in history that the Pope has taken the name Francis, and the first time in history that a Pope has come from Latin America. These are historic times that we're witnessing. I think for all of that reality, it makes people understand that the spirit is alive and moving very powerfully during our day.
Jose Cardenas: There seems to be in addition to all of that a real personal connection to this Pope.
Eduardo Nevares: Yes. Well, if you remember, one of the very first things that the Pope did was from his balcony he asked for the blessing of the people. Instead of him giving the blessing he has first the blessing of the people, and for their prayer. So the humility of the man, the simplicity of the man, and the warmth of the man I think is what really is attracting many people to get to know him and want to know him more and more and come to respect him and love him more and more.
Jose Cardenas: Among the issues hey to deal with are the scandal, banking scandals, the scandals regarding sexual abuse. But the bureaucracy itself. There have been recent reports about difficulties there. All of the things that make him seem so much to be a man of the people, how are they going to help him? Will they be a hindrance to dealing with some pretty entrenched bureaucrats in the courier?
Eduardo Nevares: They may be entrenched but he is the Pope, so he is the boss. I think in his own Archdiocese of Buenos Aires he has proven himself to be a good manager capable of making difficult decisions, so we're confident he will be able to manage the old bureaucrats that might exist in the Vatican.
Jose Cardenas: We have already seen some examples of that humility and personal style that you talked about. What do you think will be the first major initiative that we'll see coming from this Pope?
Eduardo Nevares: One of the first might be a very different style which means he has reiterated several times that he wants to be the bishop of Rome. Even though that has always been his title, at least one of his titles, I think he's emphasized he in his mind wants to take care of his people as any bishop wants to take care of their people assigned or committed to their pastoral care. So he's reiterated over and over that he comes to be the bishop of Rome. So I can see as we have already saw at the holy Thursday mass, when he went to visit the young people in the prison, and I can see him doing that more, visiting prisoners, visiting sick people, visiting the elderly shut-ins, visiting the crippled children. Any pastoral activity that any bishop would do in his own diocese. So I think that that's going to be a very different style that we'll see in Pope Francis.
Jose Cardenas: what does it mean for Catholics in the rest of the world, that the fact that he's taking care of the people who basically are in his charge, immediate charge? What significance does that have here?
Eduardo Nevares: I think that again, they say that a picture is worth 1000 words. For just seeing that beautifully con of Pope Francis kissing the feet of the prisoner and hugging the little crippled child and embracing the crippled gentleman in the Piazza is going to challenge each of us Catholics around the world, but especially then here in Arizona to follow his good example. It will challenge us to reflect upon gospel values. The old adage, what would Jesus do -- so simple. So basic, so profound. Yet I think that's great challenge that Pope Francis will bring to the Catholic population, hopefully to the world. A spirit of Christ based on gospel values.
Jose Cardenas: One of the challenges you'll be dealing with actually an opportunity in this year of faith, which I want you to explain to our audience, but is leading a pilgrimage to Mexico. Let's talk about the year of faith. What is that?
Eduardo Nevares: Pope emeritus Benedict --
Jose Cardenas: Does it sound funny to say that?
Eduardo Nevares: I have to think about it. I have to think about it. Last October asked for a year of faith because it was the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the second Vatican council. The 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the new catechism of the Catholic church. He just wanted every Catholic to get back it their roots, get back to the gospel. The Vatican documents, the catechism. Get back to their faith. Sometimes we are living in a secularist society. We're living in a society that tries to quiet the church, tries to diminish the influence of the church. And tries to convince the young people that the church is passe. I think Pope Benedict wanted first everyone to have a spiritual renewal. Not just to go through the motion, not just to follow the practice in a traditional rote way, but really challenge each and every person to have a personal encounter with the risen Christ.
Jose Cardenas: And as I understand it, this diocese has decided to pursue that renewal with a pilgrimage to Mexico that you're going to lead. Tell us about that.
Eduardo Nevares: Bishop Olmsted asked for this pilgrimage to be led this follow October 7th through 14th precisely to visit our lady of Guadaloupe in Mexico City. The reason for that is because our lady of Guadaloupe is a patroness of our diocese. Our bishop wants everyone the opportunity to go and get to know our lady better. Go to her shrine to pray for the needs of their individual families and for the needs of our diocese. Our lady of Guadaloupe at the apparition, 1531, to St. Juan Diego said she wanted all of her children to come and pray to her and be in her presence. She is our mother. She is our intercessor. She wants all of us to go and bring her our heavy an burdened hearts. We're going to organize a pilgrimage to the shrine of our lady of Guadaloupe and we're going to be there a whole day in prayer. I hope to celebrate mass at the high altar directly under the image of our lady, which is over 450 years old. It's a living image. She is alive and she's there for us today.
Jose Cardenas: She is a particular significant to Mexicans and to Hispanics in this country. What does she say, though, is there any concern that this pilgrimage -- other groups in the church, in the Diocese?
Eduardo Nevares: It's important that everybody understand that blessed John Paul II named her the empress of the Americas because our lady wants to be all of our mother. We know she is the mother of God and she's our mother, given to us by Jesus on the cross. So unfortunately for years she has been seen as the Mexican Virgin or the Virgin of the Mexicans. No, even though she did appear in Mexico, if you look at Mexico City, it really is the center of the American continent. That goes from Canada, U.S. and Mexico, central and South America. So Mexico City is at the center of that entire continent. So our lady is known as the empress of the Americas.
Jose Cardenas: You'll be going to Mexico City, going to the Basilica, but this is an eight-day seven-night trip appeared you'll be going to other parts of Mexico, in particular places that have particular relevance to later historical development in Mexico, which was the persecution of the church in the 1930s. The rebellion, there was a movie recently about that. That also has a particular personal significance to you.
Eduardo Nevares: Yes, it does. It just so happens that my great-grandfather was a catechist outside the city of Monterey, Mexico, for his little town outside of Monterey. The priest would come and celebrate mass in his home.
Jose Cardenas: They had to do it early in the morning because they were being pursued by the government.
Eduardo Nevares: and hiding from the government. The priest would come at 3 a.m. I remember my mother telling us that she would hate that because she was sound asleep and my grandfather would come and wake them up in a hurried way because the priest had arrived. So sure enough they had to sit there half dozing and half sleeping, but trying to stay awake for the mass, and then she noticed that the grandfather would pull two or three bricks out of the wall and that is where they would hide the eucharist so the soldiers would not be able to find it, then it would be up to the grandfather to have these prayer services where he would gather people of his farm, his rancho, when the priest was not available and they would have a prayer service a scripture service, and at the end the grandfather would pull out the bricks and bring the eucharist and then be able to distribute holy communion.
Jose Cardenas: so very personal significance to you. Sounds like a wonderful trip. How do people get more information about it?
Eduardo Nevares: On our website they can find information. WWW.diocesephoenix.org. Or call the diocese office. We have flyers available. We do want them to register by the 6th of May so that way we would be sure to have everybody who would like to go on this pilgrimage signed up and ready to go.
Jose Cardenas: Thank you so much for joining us. It's good to have you back. Take care.
Eduardo Nevares: God bless you.
Eduardo A. Nevares:Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Phoenix;