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Vatican newspaper: Pope Francis’s appearance, like St. Francis Xavier’s, gains hearing for the Gospel

November 18, 2013

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, Father Cristian Martini Grimaldi compared Pope Francis to St. Francis Xavier in his ability to adapt himself to the cultural situation in order to gain a hearing for the Gospel.

Father Grimaldi, an Argentine Jesuit missionary, was sent to Japan decades ago by the future Pope Francis when the latter was a Jesuit provincial.

Father Grimaldi recalled that when St. Francis Xavier asked a Japanese leader for permission to preach the Gospel, he refused because of the saint’s poor garb. The saint later returned, dressed in rich garb, bearing gifts, and emphasizing his title of ambassador of the viceroy of India; he was then permitted to preach the Gospel and converted hundreds of thousands.

Today, said Frather Grimaldi, the problem is the opposite: people see a “moral gap” between “external wealth and the spirit of Christian preaching.” Pope Francis, who instead “blends in with the faithful,” “goes straight to the hearts of the people because he has long since conquered their eyes.”


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