PopeWatch: Down Argentine Way



PopeWatch has long believed that the key to understanding Pope Francis is his life in Argentina, and is astonished at how little examination there is of that life.  From Rome has an interesting interview with an Argentinian prosecutor about the Pope:


To fill in this lacuna, the From Rome blog is honored to host an exclusive and new interview with a leading Catholic from the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Señor Jack Tollers, who has extensive experience in criminology. He is the author of the book, Fr. Leonardo Castellani: an Introduction, available from Smashwords.com.

Here is the text of our unedited interview, which we conduced by email:


Q.1 Can you tell the readers of the From Rome Blog something about yourself, where you are from, what’s your education and professional background?

I’m a middle aged Argentine with an English mother and an Argentine father, born in Buenos Aires, partially educated in England and France. A criminal prosecutor, I have been married for the better part of nearly 40 years, with one of those “bunny-like” families Bergoglio seems to hate so much (fifteen grandchildren and counting).

Q.2 What parts of Argentine have you lived in?

I have lived most of my life in Buenos Aires’ outskirts.

Q.3 When did you first hear the name Jorge Mario Bergolio?

I think that that was in the early eighties when he became the Rector of the “Colegio Máximo”, the Argentine Jesuit’s main college, not far from where I live. In those days a group of us youngsters were very good friends with a local Jesuit priest very much known for his anti-progressive stance. In those days, most Catholics in this country leaned one way or the other. But I remember quite distinctly how this Jesuit told us that this Bergoglio fellow played quite another game, playing the progressive music most of the time, but now and again switching sides to the more conservative band if need be. This was when John Paul II had been recently elected and of course there was quite a lot of “band switching” going on in those days. But Bergoglio did it in a somehow blatant manner that was the talk of those days, all of it underscored by a surprisingly successful career.

Q.4. What did the newspapers say of him when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires?

Bergoglio was very wary of the Press in general, and had few friends among journalists in general. However he was always very much highly touted by “La Nación”, the country’s “serious” newspaper (if you know what I mean), and always openly praised by it’s  foreign correspondent in Rome, one Elisabetta Piqué, who’s 2001 interview of the recently appointed Archbishop was something of a scoop. By 2005 she wrote that Bergoglio had very good chances of being elected Pope, and when Benedict was finally chosen, said that Bergoglio had been the Cardinal’s second favorite. Of course, none of us believed it, not for one second. Now we take her more seriously. But going back to your question, I don’t remember any Argentine newspaper (except “Página 12”, and that for political reasons only) criticizing Bergoglio, ever, on any count (even when same-sex marriage was legally approved in the country: despite the general brouhaha that preceded and ensued, Bergoglio kept to himself in a very who-am-I-to-judge fashion).

Q.5. Do you know any of his family or friends personally?

His family is very small and from quite humble origins (the class question cannot be discarded here, it is quite obvious that Bergoglio resents any mention of his parents or sister). So nobody that I know of has ever known or met anyone of his family. As to friends, he never had them, not old friends, that is to say, friends who have nothing to do with his personal ambitions, his power games, his downright careerism. Not a single Jesuit, not a single priest, not a single friend from old times, shall we say. A quite different story you will hear if you refer to people like Rabbi Abraham Skorka who happens to live with him in Santa Marta, believe it or not.

Q.6. Do the Jesuits in Argentine have or did they at one time have, a reputation for fidelity to the Catholic Faith?

Yes, I suppose so, before Vatican II, Jesuits were generally seen as conservative in a conventional, freezed, deadpan way, I suppose so. Fr Castellani was their enemy and he got into hot water when he decided to confront them in the Forties, long before the Council. He was expelled by these conservative Jesuits who later were to play the liberation-theology game, among other things. But of course, as Louis Bouyer has so frequently pointed out: yesterday’s conservatives are today’s progressives, because they are in the same league, a league in which truth, fidelity and so on are… how shall I put it?, subject to change. But all this is irrelevant: Bergoglio is way over these sort of distinctions, he doesn’t give a fig, he belongs to altogether another cabal.

Q.7 Did he have a reputation for fidelity to Catholic Doctrine, when he was in Argentina?

He certainly did not.

Go here to read the rest.  Sometimes PopeWatch wonders if anyone actually knows much of anything for certain about this Pope.  He seems to have gone through his life clutching his cards to his vest.

More to explorer


  1. So, a committed progressive who only sounded orthodox when he felt compelled to do so until he achieved his political ambitions. Sounds like someone I heard of who recently spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.

  2. Last night I listened to EWTN’s segment with Raymond A. (Arouro ?). He was interviewing Bishop Milino from Madison WI., and inquiring the positions that PF has and might take, regarding the Synod coming up next Oct.

    Excellent interview. It is note worthy, and I would link it in if I could. I just searched for it on ewtn world over live, but it isn’t posted yet, or it’s my incompetence.

    Bishop Milino backs Cardinal Burke and explains PF’s heart and choices of words. I apologize for not bringing up to link. It’s worth the search.

  3. I’ve already read this interview on other websites, and yes Don, to understand Francis, one must find out what he was like down Argentine way. Tollers’s interview is a good source for information on our Pope’s past. Mundabor’s blog http://mundabor.wordpress.com/ and Marielena Montesino de Stuart’s blog http://romancatholicworld.worldpress.com/ have some very concise commentaries about Francis. Mundabor is a traditional Italian Catholic and Mrs. de Stuart is a refuge from Castro’s paradise. I ‘d advise the readers of TAC to take a gander at both blogs to become well informed about Pope Jorge.

  4. But who is Señor Jack Tollers and what gives him credibility in making this report? The blog post says that he is a leading Catholic (which I assume means he is a prominent layman just as Michael Voris is a prominent layman), and that he has extensive experience in criminology (just as Michael Voris has extensive experience in TV news journalism). I am not saying that what Señor Jack Tollers reports is either true or false, but I know little to nothing about Argentina except that it has kept itself a third world country through plain stupidity and corruption – political, economic and ecclesiastical. The only current bright spot (which has nothing to do with this blog post) is that Argentina is going forward with new nuclear build, but from communist China, not the United States. Considering who and what Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is, the decision to make a deal with the communists is expected (although she did embarrass herself with a gaff ridiculing the accent that Chinese speakers of Spanish apply – but that’s a story for a different day).
    Again, what gives Señor Jack Tollers credibility?

  5. Gosh it hurts to hear this innuendo spread about our Holy Father.

    I don’t understand the point of this interview? What, to hi light that the Holy Father is a manipulative, opportunistic, career-driven mole with evil intentions in guiding the Church? Because that’s what was implied.

    Tollers should have just came out and said it in those words and stop “beating around the bush”.

    I guess being a criminal lawyer, one can choose to believe his innuendo or not. I choose the latter.

    I’d prefer to know more about Toller’s political motivations first.

  6. I read your link Anzlyne. Thank you.

    For someone who was meant to charm his way to the top in such a speedy manner, as is implied in the link, he sure didn’t charm Toller, or his fellow Jesuits.
    Toller comes across as a bitter intellectual snob.

    This link implies that St JPII was a moron, easily fooled into promoting the people-pleasers (yes he did get it wrong with Marciel). But it also implied that unless you are an academic and speak multiple languages you cannot be Pope. It’s only a white collar job? Well well, if that was Jesus intention, then the blue-collar fisherman who made multiple gaffes and denied our Lord at the hour of His death, would not have been Pope too.

    God seems to get it wrong too often. One day he’ll meet our standards and pre-requisites.

  7. I’ve said it here many times before. The Latin American Jesuits became thoroughly corrupted, regardless of country. In most Latin American countries, the Church often found itself the target of the caudillo in charge.

    One of the Liberators of Argentina, San Martin, was a Mason. In Spanish speaking South America, the entire liberation from Spain was led by men who were not Catholic, or not very good Catholics.

    Jorge Bergoglio was a Peronist. Peron was a damned fool, a demagogue and a corrupt politician who does what the Democrats do here so well – set off one class against another. His legacy still screws up Argentina.

    Cardinal Bergoglio had to deal with an SSPX seminary near his diocese and the charming +Williamson as bishop – the accused Holocaust denier. This is sensitive stuff in Argentina, which had a pro-Fascist government and provided a place to escape for countless pro-Mussolini Fascists and Nazis during and after WWII. Remember that the Mossad captured Eichmann in Argentina.

    The current Roman Pontiff knows only of his background in Argentina, the home nation of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, whose family hated the United States. To my knowledge he has never set foot in North America, and it is the Church in the United States, not Germany, that provides the biggest share of financial support for the Holy See.

    Some nations are poor because of their climate or location, such as Bangladesh. Some nations are poor because they were long dominated by a neighboring power and had their desire to work and spirit of nationhood wiped out, such as Ukraine.
    Some nations are poor because they insist on being stupid, and that’s Argentina.
    Argentina had the world’s seventh largest economy in 1900. Texas and possibly Florida have more GDP than Argentina now.

    Argentina is not a nation that has ever spent its treasure or the lives of its young men in defense of the Faith. Going back centuries, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, the Maronite Catholics of Lebanon and not the least of all Poland fought for the Church and the Faith.

    The treatment of the FFI and the LCWR provided all I need to know about this Roman Pontiff. I want him to go back to where he came from and stay there.

  8. Ezabelle, if you knew just how screwed up Argentina is you would not want anyone from Argentina running anything important.

    The Roman Pontiff dislikes Extraordinary Form Mass going Catholics and has made that clear. I have never heard of a Pope who has badmouthed any section of his Church as the current one. I pray for him – not enough – but I don’t like him and I will not fall into the trap of papal idolatry.

  9. “The current Roman Pontiff knows only of his background in Argentina, the home nation of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, whose family hated the United States. To my knowledge he has never set foot in North America, and it is the Church in the United States, not Germany, that provides the biggest share of financial support for the Holy See.”

    Then, PF, it will be very interesting to see what tone Pope Francis will take when he comes to Philadelphia. If his comments against Western materialism are in line with previous Popes and many of his own previous statements things will be fine. If he takes a much stronger anti-capitalism stance and condemns the current massive roundups of illegal aliens in the U.S. then we will know that your confluence of the Pope with Che has merit.

  10. Pope Francis has dedicated 2015 as the year of Consecrated Life. I am wondering if Pope Francis means to include the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.
    Realizing who the Immaculate Conception is, Mary Immaculate, from the very first moment of her existence removes from anybody’s mind that fact that the newly conceived is anybody less than a sovereign person. Realizing the fact of immediate sovereign personhood would absolutely forbid human sacrifice in the form of abortion. Contraception, on the other hand, disables the loving relationship man has with God, his Maker, and with his spouse. But abortion is the deliberate destruction of a child of God. Population control freaks cannot abide the truth of the Immaculate Conception. So, I wonder if this is the true reason for Pope Francis’ deletion of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, whether he knows it or not, for this would enable Pope Francis to play up to the population control freaks and liars about the reality of the sacredness of the human being.
    As the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis’ first mission is to uphold the relationship the human soul has with Jesus Christ. Then, following, is his mission to relate this relationship of the human soul with Jesus Christ to the human race and to all mankind, the souls in heaven, on earth and in purgatory, as We are the Church.

  11. One who plays the progressive tune most of the time and the
    conservative tune when needed is often defined to be duplicitous,
    which explains his confusing statements which seem to
    contradict each other, but are meant to mask who he is and
    what he is about. Bergoglio is a leftist ideologue who lost
    his Catholic faith long ago.

    Now, the duplicitous Bergoglio is appointing Cardinals faster than breeding
    rabbits. This is to ensure that a Pope Benedict or a St. John Paul II
    will never be elected again and that his radical agenda will be accepted
    by a majority vote.

  12. Penguins Fan, I was rooting for Miss Argentina to win Miss Universe. Thank goodness she didn’t win then.

    Poland was under communist rule when St JPII was elected Pope.

    My children attend an Opus Dei school and there has never been a bad word uttered about our Holy Father- and Jesuits and Opus Dei folk are meant to be rivals in The Church…after all Opus Dei families have large families, are ultra-conservative BUT do not follow the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. They haven’t for as long as I recall. And I was educated at the same Opus Dei school…

    The Pope does not “bad-mouth” his people. That’s an inaccurate, inflamed blanket statement. I can argue with you (in a kind way of course) about each of the so-called “insulting” comments the Holy Father has made against his own people. How has he personally offended you Anzlyne?

    Take the latest: The Philippines has a high level of poverty and poor health care. From personal experience, with each subsequent pregnancy, the cesarean wound needs to be monitored incase the current pregnancy causes a rupture and becomes life threatening. The pope was right about the woman who had 7 caesareans. DOES she want to leave 7 children orphaned?! I guarantee she doesn’t have the proper healthcare to ensure her safety with each. Or the proper medical advise to stop having more children because of the risk to her life. Is common sense not Catholic?

    I have never been offended by the Holy Fathers comments. I am a baptised Orthodox, who was educated in an Opus Dei school, whose children go to an Opus Dei school, who votes Conservative politically, who uses NFP, who is a practising, Church-attending Catholic, who receives Communion in the mouth, who attends Sunday Mass at a Church which has altar girls and Eucharistic Ministers. The Holy Father has never offended me.

    I pray for the Pope, he has a difficult job. It is a thankless task leading us in the Faith.

  13. ABC News, jan 22, 2015:

    From Homeland Security head Johnson:

    “Johnson told the mayors that when it comes to deportation, the Obama administration wants to concentrate on illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes.

    “We want to remove criminals as a matter of public safety,” he said.

    He noted there are an estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. “We can’t deport all those people,” he said.”

    I think, TomD that you are mistaken if you believe that Secretary Johnson is not closely adhering to the wishes of the Chief Executive of the United States.

  14. If you think, then, that allowing illegal aliens who commit serious crimes in the U.S. to remain in the U.S. is wise, you need very serious help, immediately.

  15. Over 2000 years have passed since the Lord Jesus Christ told His Apostles to preach His Gospel to the whole world and to baptize them in the name of the Trinity. And yet, the number of Catholics in the world are almost the same as the cut-and-paste religion now creating havoc everywhere. In the territory that God became man, His followers have been well-nigh banished.Here we are dissecting one who is supposed to be His successor. What has gone wrong? And why is Christ hiding His face?

  16. We are all sinners, and no clergyman is exempt from that. Popes have always face criticism, often intense, and many have been persecuted through the centuries. Catholic adults should recognize this.

    Legitimate criticism of the current Roman Pontiff is justified, as with all of his predecessors. As a Catholic of Polish heritage I loved John Paul II but I recognize that he was a poor administrator and criticism of that part of his papacy is warranted.

    Anyone who thinks anyone here at The American Catholic is harsh on the current Roman Pontiff should look at the attacks levied upon Pius XII, John Paul II and Benedict from the Fishwrap and its ideological allies.

  17. Penguins Fan- point taken. Criticism is warranted for any leader, whether it’s the Pope or the President.

    I guess there is criticism and then there is CRITICISM. When it is constant and hateful, and when everything the Pope says and does, is treated with suspicion and innuendo. It’s basically throwing out the baby with the bath water”. Common sense and an open mind needs to be exercised. Yes, he is not a European Pope, but Catholics are not only European either.

    He isn’t the anti-Christ because he lacks an intellectual tone to his Papacy. Nor is he driving the Church away from God; and not is he stupid.

    He’s human. And I believe, is doing the best he knows in the current Godless world we live in.

  18. Even more revealing to me is a book “Le Pecore di Bergoglio” which translates “The Sheep of Bergoglio”.
    “Le pecore di Bergoglio, Le periferie di Buenos Aires svelano chi è Francesco”
    The book is in Italian but with my rudimentary skills translates: “The Sheep of Bergoglio- The peripheries of Buenos Aires reveal who is Francesco”. And the summary explains ‘passing through the streets of the miserable outskirts of Buenos Aires we can better understand who he is today- in Rome: the church of the neighborhoods, the use of a modest car, the iron cross, the old shoes, the SACRAMENTS AS A REMEDY NOT AS A PRIZE, COMMUNION TO THE DIVORCED, the church as a field hospital, the result of a way of life that has brought to St Peter’s the first pope of the southern hemisphere’…..and more about the smell of the sheep.
    What I put in caps says it all- no?

    Even though the book is in Italian- I’m surprised it hasn’t come to the attention of the Italian speaking bloggers.

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