Pope Francis: Just Another Italian

March 18, 2013

The media is calling him the first "non-European" Pope in 1300 years and the first "Latin American" Pope ever, and Latinos and Hispanics in the U.S. are starting to identify with him as a fellow "minority" and "one of us". His name may be Jorge, he may speak Spanish, and he may have been born in South America, but his ancestry is 100% Italian and the country he's from isn't very representative of the region.

But the first Latin American pope also represents a cultural bridge between two worlds — the son of Italian immigrants in a country regarded by some as the New World colony Italy never had. For many Italians, his heritage makes him the next best thing to the return of an Italian pope.


It remains unclear whether even Latin Americans will respond with newfound energy to Bergoglio's ascension to the throne of St. Peter. Among many of its neighbors, Argentina is seen as a nation apart — a country that fancies itself more European than Latin American, with many likely to see the rise of an Italian Argentine as largely unrepresentative of the region as a whole.

"Argentina is so secular today, a more Eurocentric Latin country," said Joseph M. Palacios, a specialist in religion and society in Latin America at Georgetown University. "They are Catholic by culture but not by practice. Geopolitically it makes sense in terms of bridging Europe to Latin America or the Third World, but Argentines don't see themselves as being Third World."

Anthony Faiola. "Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, known for simplicity and conservatism". The Washington Post, March 13, 2013.

Pope Francis
Parents Regina Maria Sivori
and Mario Jose Bergoglio

Back: brother Alberto Horacio, Francis, brother Oscar Adrian, and sister Marta Regina.
Front: sister Maria Elena, mother, and father.


Crimson Guard said...

This part was pretty cool:



Salmo said...

The Pope is indeed a true Argentinian and a true Latin American. Much more so than hispanic-americans, who were born in an english speaking country and speak english as their first language, wheter they are mixed or not.

U.S. image of what is a latino has no meaning and shouldn't even be considered. In Latin America itself there's no brotherhood between all the laitn american countries and the term has no racial meaning. He is surely an Argentinian way before being an Italian.

I dislike your simplistic way to deal with this issue, and even disrespectful to be honest. No one tries to take away the "americannes" of non-whites in U.S. or non-WASPS, there's no point in opposing europeaness to latin american-ness. Calling him "just another Italian" is to belittle his identity to his country and what he truly is.

And Argenitinians are quite aware they are latin americans, they just try to make it clear they are not part of a fake latino race and are more european in ancestry than anything else.

Blogger said...

@ Salmo

"Latin" Americans or "Latinos" are not even Latins or Latinos! Italians are the real Latins!

Carlino Altoviti said...

Mr Salmo has misunderstood.The article was written by a Washington Post reporter not by the blogger.

fhinchey said...

Pope Francis' mother, Regina Maria Sivori Gogna, was born in Buenos Aires to an Italian immigrant, Maria Gogna (see link below). Regina married Francis' father, Mario Jose Bergoglio, who left Italy for Argentina before the outbreak of WWII to escape Mussolini.