“Always, whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. It always and totally belongs to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally taken away from it private dimension“. The words of Benedict XVI, pronounced by the German Pope at the end of his stormy pontificate which lasted eight years, well describe the situation that his successor has been experiencing since his election in 2013. “What I miss most in this diocese is not being able to anymore go around the streets, as I did a Buenos Aires, walking from one parish to another ”. Francis confided this to the Spanish Vaticanist Javier Martínez-Brocal, Director of Rome Reports, which immortalized him as he walked out of a record shop in the center of Roma.
Images that immediately went around the world telling the umpteenth escape of Bergoglio from Vatican for a brief return to normal. The Pope, in fact, went to a shop where he used to go during his Roman trips as a cardinal. A longtime friend of the owners of the restaurant, Francesco had promised that he would return there, this time as the Pope, but in nine years he had not yet realized this desire. He did so in early 2022, also blessing the refurbished shop and receiving a classical music disc.
Most likely there would have been no trace of this papal flight if Martínez-Brocal had not found himself by chance right in front of the restaurant when the Pope went out there to get on his utility car and return to the Vatican escorted only by a few loyal men of the Gendarmerie. Images that added a piece to the story of the Bergoglian pontificate. Back in his editorial office, the journalist wrote to Francis expressing his displeasure because the Pope is forced not to be able to roam freely through the streets of Rome as he would like because every time he does so he is photographed and filmed by cameras. The Vatican expert, however, specified that nice news such as those of the Pontiff’s surprise releases manage to make readers smile at a time when the news unfortunately only reports so many tragedies.
For his part, Francis took pen and paper and, in a letter written entirely in his own hand, as is his style, he replied directly to Martínez-Brocal. The Pope thanked him for his “Noble and beautiful” missive and added that “it cannot be denied that it was unfortunate that, after taking all precautions, there was a reporter waiting for a person at the taxi stand” just around the corner from the record store. From Francis also an invitation: “We must not lose ours sense of humor“. With an encouragement to the Vatican expert to “fulfill his vocation” as a journalist “even if that means put the Pope in difficulty”.
In the past there were two papal escapes that caused the greatest stir. In 2015 Bergoglio personally went to remake the lenses of your glasses with a view to the center of Rome and the following year he went to one sanitary a stone’s throw from the Vatican to buy a couple of orthopedic shoes. Francis himself, shortly after the election, confided: “I miss going out on the street, yes I want it, the tranquility of walking down the street, or going to a pizzeria in eat good pizza. I’ve always been on the road. As a cardinal, I liked walking down the street, taking the bus or the subway. The city enchants me, I am a citizen in the soul. I couldn’t live in the countryside. Here I visit the parishes, but I cannot go out ”. And he added: “One day I went out in the car alone with the driver and I forgot to close the window, which was open and I didn’t realize it. Confusion arose. I was sitting in the front seat, they had to go a little way, but people didn’t let the car move forward. It is clear, there was the Pope on the street. Here in truth I am considered undisciplined, I don’t follow the protocol very much. The protocol is very cold, but if there are official occasions, I totally stick to them ”.