Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 20 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions
home iconChurch
line break icon

Pope Francis once saved a man’s life and now, almost 4 decades later, they meet face to face


Alfredo Luis Somoza | Facebook

Alicia Ambrosio - published on 07/09/17

Alfredo Luis Somoza described his meeting with Pope Francis as part of an "intense day" in Rome

Today Alfredo Luis Somoza is a successful journalist, and the president of the Institute for International Economic Development. But 38 years ago he was a university student wanted by Argentina’s military regime, and a Jesuit priest named Fr. Jorge Bergoglio helped him flee to Italy.

On June 30, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, for the first time in 38 years, Somoza came face to face with the man who helped save his life.

Somoza told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper it was a quick reunion, but the pope recognized him right away. Francis remarked, “Who would have ever said we would meet again here?”

Although it was their first face to face meeting since Somoza left Argentina, the two were in contact just after Pope Francis was elected. The author and journalist had a book that was set to release just as the new pope was elected, titled Beyond the Crisis: Notes on Future Economic Scenarios.

Somoza managed to stop the printing of the book to add one more chapter about the first pope in the era dominated by the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). He sent a copy of the book to the newly elected pope, who replied with a personal letter and a blessing.

Their face to face reunion happened at the end of a papal audience to mark the 50th anniversary of the the Italo-Latin American Institute.

On his Facebook page Somoza posted photos from his meeting with the man he calls “Father Jorge” and said it was an intense day. Pope Francis, he said, spoke about violence, the injustices of poverty, and “migration that breaks families and nations, that separates parents from children, that will never stop until there is a global pact to end wars, famine and injustice.”

Somoza also told La Stampa that he sees Pope Francis fixing some of the errors that have led some of the faithful in Latin America to distance themselves from the Church. In particular, he praised Pope Francis’ move to have the Church in Argentina open its archives from the “dirty war” period.

“I think a long overdue step was finally taken,” he said, adding “concrete acts, that could clear up an uncomfortable truth, were needed and owed to the families of the victims of the dictatorship.”

Somoza was wanted by the Jorge Videla military regime because of his work as a young journalist writing about culture for a self-published magazine that was hand distributed on the streets of Buenos Aires.

He attended Buenos Aires’ Univerisad del Salvador, where he met Fr. Bergoglio, the Jesuit provincial at the time, who urged students to keep their eyes open about what was going on around them.

Somoza and others in his class learned later, by personal experience, how much then-Father Bergoglio was doing to help victims of the Videla regime.

HistoryPope Francis

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
Cerith Gardiner
12 Habits of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that every young adult...
Visalia CHURCH
J-P Mauro
The largest Catholic parish church in the US will soon be in Cali...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.