Today I received your letter of May 1. It gave me much joy. The account of the patronal feast brought me fresh air. I am well and have not lost my peace in face of a totally astonishing event, which I hold as a gift of God. I try to maintain the same way of being and of acting that I had in Buenos Aires, because if I were to change at my age it would certainly be ridiculous.”
It is the beginning of a normal letter between two distant friends, linked by strong affection. A letter that becomes extraordinary, however, when one learns the name of the sender: Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The Argentine daily “El Clarin” published the message of response today, which Pope Francis sent last May 15 to a priest friend, parish priest in the province of La Rioja, Father Enrique Rodriguez, whom the Holy Father affectionately calls “Quique.”
Recounting his life at Rome, the Pontiff writes: “I didn’t want to live in the Apostolic Palace. I go there only to work and for audiences. I live in Saint Martha’s House, which is a boarding house, where we were guests during the Conclave. It houses bishops, priests and laymen. I am visible to people and I lead a normal life. A public Mass in the morning, I eat at table with everyone, etc.”
“All this does me much good and avoids my being isolated,” adds the Pope. “
“Quique, affectionate greetings to your parishioners. I ask you please to pray for me and have others pray for me. Greetings to Carlos and Miguel. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin look after you,” he concludes.