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tv   NBC10 The Peoples Pope  NBC  September 12, 2015 7:30pm-8:01pm EDT

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guilty of involvement in the human rights abuses. >> and where jorge bergoglio would grow up amid corruption. a first argentinian who survived outspoken opponents to become pope francis, the people's pope. >> he has new energy. we're getting to know a different person. >> good evening from buenos aires. i'm jim rosenfield. pope francis is expected to attract millions of people when he visits the united states. he is without question the most popular pope in our time. but why? what it is about this man that transcends social and political boundaries? the answer is as complex as the country in this which he grew up. that's where our story begins. right here in argentina.
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once ranked among the world's greatest cities, buenos aires survived both world wars and the great depression, boasting beautiful architecture influenced by a growing immigrant population, mostly european. agricultural wealth that made them wealthy. and a sophistication among the city citizens that was enviable until it all fell apart. some historians blame the perots, juan and his famous wife evita for policy that led to military collapses and economic coups. jorge bergoglio lived in an era of poverty from which his beloved city never recovered. >> i think that he understands the pain of the people. he really does. >> silvia worked alongside bergoglio for years at the church's television station. she recalls a stern but
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benevolent boss. >> he was a very open minded man. ch. >> walking among the people, incognito at times to celebrate on holy days, washing and kissing the feet of others long before he was on the world stage. but also not afraid to take a strong stand, scolding people and the government about social ills like drugs and prostitution, or legalizing same-sex marriage. and as a jesuit comes with the belief they should heal the wounded, not merely preaching rigid doctrine from a poll pretty. it's a message and style that resonates, powerful enough to bring tourists from around the globe to the pope's native city to see for themselves where he worked and worshipped. >> i think it's very symbolic that it represents how an
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average man and his extraordinary ability can bring forward a message for the rest of the world that it's time to change. >> you can usually look back at the lives of great leaders and understand who really helped shape their character. for bergoglio, family was a huge factor, and here in buenos aires, so were the times. both socially and politically. he's known pope francis about as long as anyone. retired musician ernesto lock, who treated us to traditional tango on yellowed ivories, easily as o old as their friendship. he keeps closed cherished handwritten letters for the vatican. the sender's return address carries a simple "f" for francis. but he knew him as jorge. >> what was jorge bergoglio like as a young boy? >> always he was smiling.
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never i saw him sad. >> lasting impressions side by side at this all boys school in their neighborhood in a working clesz section of buenos aires. >> always the best in the classroom. >> he was smart. intelligent. >> intelligent. >> jorge bergoglio is the oldest of five children, born in flores to italian immigrant parents. his father a bookkeeper. miz mother staid in the home. also an important parking lot of his childhood, his grandmother rosa who taught him the rosary. >> they were influenced by the large extended family and the struggles they went through to make it in a new country, and he's very appreciative of that. >> but while bergoglio was certainly braul lly brought up h going family -- >> i never imagined he would become the pope. never. >> he told me if religion was important at home, it wasn't something jorge focused on with friends. he didn't talk about wanting to
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be a priest or religion? >> no, no, no. never. >> but he was young. >> oh, sure. >> of interest back then, soccer, a passion he inherited from his father, who often took him to see the hometown team. founded in 1908 by a priest. current players know well that francis is a card carrying member of the club, but he doesn't watch the games because he doesn't watch any television, relying instead on scores passed along to him by his swiss guard. >> he says, i don't follow the games. i can't see the games every weekend. but i know the result of the games. >> star defender got the scoop straight from the source during a private audience at the vatican after the team won a recent championship. >> what was that like? >> amazing. we were like this. >> equally amazing for devoted fans, the team's record, ever since a certain pope's election.
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>> we start playing better and better, and we start winning, and we win the championship. >> since he became pope? >> yeah. >> the team has had a turnaround? >> yeah. >> and to what do you credit that? >> i don't know. >> from up above? >> yeah. we say that he helped us. i don't know if it's true or not. >> as a young man, tango was another passion for bergoglio. >> in argentina if you didn't dance tan go, our own national and popular expression tango, you were out. >> francis, we're told, favors the faster beat known as the milanga, with its rapid fire sensual unspoken dialogue. >> the embrace and the stance is the most important, most powerful thing, because everything happens within your brain. >> but faith began moving to center stage for bergoglio about
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the times americans teens focus on getting their driver's license, just before his 17th birthday. >> one day a teenage bergoglio was hanging out with friends, but felt compelled to break away and come here to his neighborhood chunch. >> francis has said it was something he felt after mass, sitting here in this confessional that prompted him to leave behind his work as a young chemist to join the seminary. a local priest ordained by francis said he felt it was god calling him. he told no one at home what had happened and worked his job in the chemical factory, but within a few years he would follow his calling. >> his mother was very encouraging of him becoming a doctor and was not happy to hear he was becoming a priest. it took him a long time to work up to his vocation as a priest. i think she would be okay with
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it now. i would hope. >> and so five days before his 33rd birthday, jorge bergoglio was ordained a priest on december 13th, 1969, the ceremony took place in this simple chapel at the seminary where he would later teach and teenage charge of hundreds of jesuit students. it's also where he would secretly help others find refuge from a brutal military regime. father jorge doesn't know it yet, but there are dark and dangerous days ahead. >> people were disappearing, and he disagreed with other jesuits on how to respond to that. >> this is a country where it's impossible to separate religion from politics, and bergoglio from politics, and bergoglio finds himself on the
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with the name the philadelphia region has trusted for over 75 years, you have the compassion and security of blue cross. giving you the power to keep pace. independence blue cross. live fearless. during his early years as a rising leader here in the church in argentina, jorge bergoglio
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was not exempt from controversy. he was witness to a brutal military dictatorship, and he himself was accused of being complicit in the kidnapping of two jesuit priests. we wanted to know what was his role during his country's dirty role. two photos on the desk in buenos aires speak volumes of the tragedy and triumph that form the arc of his 84 years. estela told us her pregnant daughter laura was kidnapped off the street at age 22. the college activist detained for months in one of many secret government detention centers like this one during argentina's last dictatorship and brutal war during the 1970s and early '80s. the military general showed no mercy for suspected left wing enemy of the states, real or imagined. black and white faces now icons of the 10,000 to 30,000 believed
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disappeared by the regime. it was right here in the shadows of residential apartment buildings in buenos aires that smted government subersives were detained. laura was held until she gave birth to a baby boy and then executed, as was the baby's father. she was told the baby would be give on the me, but the baby was gone estela told us, also a common practice in that era. >> there were a number of different people in the church trying to respond to really harsh situation from a dictatorship. how do you speak out on that? and how do you speak out on that in a way that may not endanger other people? >> back then jorge bergoglio responded quietly by many accounts, helping some religious
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workers escape kidnapping or certain death by going into hiding. friend and fellow jesuit told us father jorge didn't talk about those brutal days. he shared with us the plight of three seminariens he's aware of who were protected here. he showed us the modest quarters that become temporary safe haven for religious men in risk of government actions, kept out of harm's way where bergoglio was rector until safe passage out of argentina could be arraigned. >> it's a 30-day silent retreat. so people could claim they were doing their retreat with the pope, and then nobody was looking for them for a month. by then they had left the country and were safe in exile. >> it was a difficult time for the country. >> freelance "new york times" journalist jonathan gilbert is well versed on the fine line church leaders had to walk during the dark time in
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argentina. gilbert himself investigated politically charged claims that bergoglio was complicit in the government kidnapping of two other jesuit priests who refused to stop their work in the slums of argentina. >> -- to absolutely pin down that he was involved in any sorts of human rights abuses. >> as for estela, for more than 30 years she knew nothing of her grands grandson's whereabouts. she started a group dedicating to finding lost children. but when we asked estela if church leaders were seen as helpful in championing their cause, a surprise answer. he did nothing was the initial reaction at the time. vocal in her criticism as his
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lack of public action on the plight of the disappeared. but then life for estela took a dramatic turn last august when a 36-year-old musician learned of his questionable adoption by a farmer and his wife, so he turned to estela's organization to go through genetic testing at their lab. the stunning results would restore her strength and grab headlines across the globe. the young musician's dna was a match to the very woman whose organization had helped reunite more than 100 other families with lost babies. estela's grandson was found. and since then, she's found newfound respect for the pope. showing a photograph with him. why the reconciliation? she said she's learned from those in a position to know that as a leader of the church in argentina, francis did work behind the scenes to help their cause.
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worked on in silence, she says. so along with the truth that the grandson knows about her past came estela's truth, that pope francis helped save lives. during every difficult period in his life, pope francis found comfort in his pastoral work with the poor. pope francis spent time just like where we're sitting today. >> all the time. >> to do what? >> to be with the people? to be one more.
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for pope francis, austerity and personal policy keep him in touch with reality. his torch of work began here in buenos aires, lighting the path of the poorest neighborhoods in argentina. when father jorge was elected pope, the contents of his daily
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life fit into just one suitcase. >> nobody knew a lot of things of him of his life until he went to rome. >> every day argentinians said they had no idea of his ways. >> he left everything, and he was very close to the poor people. >> we got a glimpse of the simple life at the seminary where jorge taught theology. these two modest rooms kept just as they were when they were home for the high ranking jesuit. friends say francis' simple life keeps him connected to reality, and observers say as pope he leads by example. >> he doesn't believe that you lead through all the traits of office.
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he refused to wear the red cape, he doesn't wear the red shoes. >> as archbishop, bergoglio found kfrlt amocomfort among th visible from busy highways that traverse buenos aires. >> pope francis spent time here, just like the one we're sitting in today. >> all the time. all the time. >> to do what? tell us. >> to be with the people. to be one more. to be there with him. just to be in the daily life. >> our guide in one of argentina's poorest neighborhoods is seminaria seminarian patricio. this is one of many griltty barios packed together in a labyrinth of dirt roads and open sewers. towns known only by numbers. this is number 18, about an hour outside of buenos aires, home to 6,000 people.
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feels here try to make the best of it. a ready smile easy to find, despite the the challenges of extreme poverty and danger. >> like 1% of the population, they are drug dealers. >> part of the reason parents like housekeeper and single mother sarah keeps a close watch on her two children. it's a catholic charity based in pennsylvania provides scholarship for a handful of girls to attend private schools outside. >> your vision is to help people here what? >> one of the main goals for us is to give them the possibility to get better access to education. >> but in the pope's homeland we
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also found a cynical view of the holy father's motivation to build a church for the poor. journalist jonathan gilbert. >> i think there's also a skeptical thought. are the poor just there to create a relationship of dependence on the church, so that the church can reestablish dominance in latin america? >> still for those on the front lines, it's work that has lasting rewards. and to be happy with what i can. now that his message is amplified, francis' every word is scrutinized around the world. many wonder if that's signaling a tidal wave of change. >> people love him, but he's going to be saying things that people are not going to love. >> when we come back, the message his close friends tell us he'll bring to the u.s.
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latin america's first pope will soon mark another first. setting foot on u.s. soil to greet millions in three u.s. cities. it's a visit marked by high hopes for an american church eager for a spork of renewal. it's no secret the 75 million catholics in america just aren't filling the pews the way they used to. only a quarter of them reported going to mass even once a week according on the research center. fewer minnesota are entering the priesthood. the sex abuse scandal has rocked the faithful and emptied out churches, paying legal fees and settlements. it's no surprise the arrival brings new excitement to the americans. >> it's not just the pope. it's pope francis coming in. that's what makes it exciting. >> but what message will he
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bring to the u.s., and how will it resonate? >> i think he will get the bear of it. >> observers point to recent remarks elsewhere on signs of what to expect. a misdirected focus on material things an a lack of outreach to imgrants and the poor. >> people love him, but he's going to say things that people are not going to love. >> father dennis o'donnell from pennsylvania worked with the underprivileged, he expected the the people's poem to challenge the people's comfort zone. >> when he start saying things about economy, about cultures, about the environment, there's going to be a lot of people who are not going to like it. >> and what about those hoping francis has become a movement to bring major changes to the church? >> he hasn't changed anything in the doctrines of the church. i don't anticipate that we will see changes in the doctrines of the church. >> i think we'll go with a
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healing program. >> this former colleague silvia says you can be sure he has give an great deal of thought to this he will address congress, the u.n. and those alienated by the church's failings. >> you're talking about the sex abuse scandal? >> yes. i'm sure about that. >> whatever the message, american college student malcolm now knows he wants to experience the pope's visit firsthand, that after a summer of study in the pope's native argentina. >> that's a moment in history i want to be there for and i want to witness with my own eyes. >> those who work closely with the pope here in argentina tell us he's well aware of the weight his words will carry in the cradle of democracy. it's a message many hope will resonate long after fall turns to winter in america. i'm jim rosenfield. thanks for joining us.
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