Father Miguel Alderete Garrido, a priest from the Argentine city of Tucuman, was amazed at seeing his old friend Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio appear on the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica as the new Pope.
Standing amidst the sea of people in St. Peter’s Square on the day of the new Pope’s election, Fr. Alderetef “is a strong, firm pastor with faith and humility, but courageous in his words. He is a prophet in speaking out and proclaiming the Gospel.”
“It is awesome that they have chosen a friend of mine to be Pope,” he told EWTN News on March 13.
“He is my friend, I know him well. He is an excellent pastor, a prophet for our times and a man who desires to rebuild the Church like St. Francis of Assisi.”
The Argentine priest recounted he ran into then-Cardinal Bergoglio a week after he returned from the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
“I was fortunate to see him for a matter related to the diocese and I said, 'Your Eminence, is it true that you came in second during the conclave? He told me, 'Look, you know I can’t talk to you about that. What you are hearing is just conjecture.'”
“But of course the years have gone by, and here we are in St. Peter’s Square welcoming – I dare to say – the one who came in second in the previous conclave,” Fr. Alderete said.
“At the time of his election I was here praying the rosary, but not so that we would have an Argentine Pope – that’s a plus that God’s grace allows me to represent my Argentina. When they said his name in Latin I didn’t catch it, but when they said Bergoglio I shouted, Argentina!”
“Beyond his nationality what I can say is that he is a man of faith and a prophet for our times,” he added.
Fr. Alderete said Pope Francis is the man most suitable to carry forward Benedict XVI’s call for the Year of Faith, because “it is a mystery of faith for the salvation of the world, and he is committed to the New Evangelization.”
“I know that he has taken this name in order to restore the Church, and that’s what is good. Knowing his humility and how he is, what he is trying to say is that we restore the Church of Jesus Christ and the New Evangelization,” the priest said.
“New things are coming for the Church, new in their ardor, in their fervor and in their expression. This is a man of the New Evangelization,” he added.