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Pope Francis has family in Italy, will be challenged by new office

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Francis may be from Argentina, but his roots are Italian. By returning to Rome, the new Holy Father also returns to his family roots. His elevation brings new challenges for the humble pontiff.

ROME, ITALY (Catholic Online) - The Pope's family comes from Portacomaro Stazione a wine producing region in Asti, known to many Americans for its sparkling Asti Spumante. This is where his father worked on an Italian railway line before immigrating to Argentina. 

Italians immigrated to Argentina in large numbers between 1857 and 1930 with more than 300,000 settling in Argentina.

Pope Francis, as a first-generation Argentinean, has plenty of family back in Italy. He isn't alone, as about 60 percent of all Argentineans share Italian ancestry. He also speaks fluent Italian and is sufficiently familiar with Italian culture as to be considered an insider, albeit one posted from overseas.

Pope Francis still has several cousins in the country who he has visited on previous occasions.

In Italy, several of Francis's family are hoping to visit the Vatican soon as well as deliver congratulatory gifts. It is likely they'll get a chance to see him, for although he is busy, he is also humble and a man of all the people, at least so it seems.

As Cardinal Bergoglio, he commonly spent time with the poor and common folk of Buenos Aries, ministering to them charitably, much as Saint Francis over seven centuries ago. Bergoglio was also known for using public transportation rather than a chauffeur to get around.

While some of his down-to-earth traditions will need to change, after all, he is the now the Pope and a leader of 1.2 billion people. He will now need to spend more time surrounded with security and monsignori, as he goes about his daily work.

Still, we can probably expect surprises from this earthly pope, who is just as comfortable on a public bus as he is at the head of his Church.

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