Pope’s sister: Jorge was my brother and best friend, always funny

ARGENTINA, Buenos Aires : From L to R, up: Pope's sister Maria Helena, Pope's mother Regina Sivori, Pope's brother Alberto, Jorge Bergoglio Pope Francis, Pope's brother Oscar, Pope's sister Martha, Pope's stepbrother Enrique Narvaja. Sitting from L to R: Pope's grandfather Juan Bergoglio, Pope's grandmother Rosa and Pope's father Mario.

He supported me a lot, as a big brother should …

Jorge Mario Bergoglio “communicates through his example, not with words,” says his younger sister, Maria Elena Bergoglio, in a book of interviews about the pope, extracted by L’Avvenire this week. Titled L’Altro Francesco (“The Other Francis”) and written by American journalist Deborah Castellano Lubov, it was published October 10.

“He confided to me that his dream is a Church for the poor, […] free of riches and privileges,” the pope’s sister relates in the book. She says the pope hopes that the Church will have pastors who don’t isolate themselves from their people, but who live among them to serve them.

“Jorge communicates with his example, not just with his words,” Maria Elena Bergoglio said.

Speaking of their relationship, she said, “He was my brother and my best friend … He was always funny, and he supported me a lot, as a big brother should.”

In this book, the pontiff’s younger sister remembers the serious pneumonia the future pope suffered while still a seminarian. Despite being near death, she recounts, he recuperated quickly after an operation to remove part of his right lung; nonetheless, he had to abandon his dream of becoming a missionary.

The preface to L’Altro Francesco was written by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the pope’s secretary of state. The book presents the testimonies of people close to Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia, such as Cardinal Peter Turkson, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and George Pell, as well as Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household, and the rabbi of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Abraham Skorka.

An English translation is forthcoming.

Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.