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6/21/2013 7:09:00 AM
Argentinians on pope: 'What he is now, he was before'
An advertisement from the St. John Society welcomes Pope Francis, a fellow Argentinian.
An advertisement from the St. John Society welcomes Pope Francis, a fellow Argentinian.

A team of young evangelizing priests who came to Oregon from Argentina say their fellow countryman, Pope Francis, is serving now just as he did in Buenos Aires as archbishop of that huge archdiocese: embracing simplicity and standing up for the poor.  

At least one member of the St. John Society — a society of apostolic life under canon law – has a photo taken with then-archbishop Jorge Bergoglio.

"What he is now, he was before," says Father Ignacio Llorente, who serves at St. Patrick Parish in Portland. "He promoted a lot of ministry in the slums, where hundreds of thousands, even millions, live. He would promote having priests work there and even go himself."

He had no chauffeur and took the bus. As he did at the Vatican, in Buenos Aires he eschewed the archbishop's large house for humbler quarters.  

"He wanted to be in touch with the streets," Father Llorente says. "He was gentle but strong, strong especially with the government."

Father Llorente and his confreres were surprised that Cardinal Bergoglio was elected by the cardinals.

"But," the priest says, "it was very providential, no?"

The Saint John Society seeks to help people who have only heard about Jesus get to know him through faith. In Oregon, they focus especially on college students and run the Newman Centers at Oregon State University and Portland State.

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