“What a pleasure to be able to be here with you! How nice! […] I wanted to knock on every door, say “hello”, ask for a glass of cold water, have a cup of coffee, not a glass of cachaça! “
It is not from today that Pope Francis enjoys playing with the most beloved Brazilian goró. The Argentine’s mockery with his neighbors had already taken place since his first year of pontificate. The opening of this text was made in his speech in Varginha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro where he arrived by popemobile, on July 25, 2013.
Almost eight years later, senior Catholic leaders continued to joke with the national passion for pinga. “You have no salvation. Too much cachaça and no prayer.” With a smile on his face, this is what he told a priest of the diocese of Campina Grande, Paraíba, after the general audience at the Vatican this Wednesday (26).
The Pope even knows one of the most traditional carnival marches in the country, precisely the one with cognac. Who remembers is Rubens da Cruz Carneiro Neto, 33, seminarian from the diocese of Registro (SP). “I was in São Pedro Square to participate in the general audience. He came to meet me and I said ‘Daddy, a blessing for a Brazilian.’ He replied: ‘Oh yes, a Brazilian!’ and hummed: ‘You think cachaça is water …’ “
It was 2017, and they both laughed, says Rubens. Then Francisco took her hand “and made a ‘joinha’ with the other”. He then asked the pontiff to pray for his vocation and obtained a blessing.
Folha heard two other similar reports: the Pope identifies the interlocutor as a neighbor of his native country and sings the carnival slogan. In one case, he also appealed to the historic rivalry between Argentina and Brazil and asked who was better in football, be it Pelé or Maradona.
The Pope’s favorite alcoholic drink is much sweeter than Brazilian caninha. In the biography “A Vida de Francisco”, Evangelina Himitian recounts that, when he was bishop, Jorge Mario Bergoglio harmonized the meals of the Curia of Buenos Aires with half a glass of wine. While in Brazil for World Youth Day in 2013, Salton announced the donation of 992 bottles of wine to serve the papal entourage.
In 2016, the pontiff greeted couples with half a century of marriage behind their backs and said the feat deserved a dignified toast. “You can’t end a wedding party by drinking tea. It would be a shame. Wine is necessary for a celebration, ”he declared in front of thousands of faithful in Vatican Square.
Nothing in Catholicism prevents the consumption of alcoholic beverages, provided it is moderate. Psalm 104: 15, for example, quotes “the wine that rejoices.” The most famous Bible passage on the subject, recounted in the Gospel of John, tells of how Jesus turned water into wine after Mary, his mother, warned that the drink had run out at a Cana wedding in Galileo. It is said that the feat is the first miracle of Christ.
In 2019, the Pope recommended a different type of alcohol to a Spanish journalist-priest who, during an Italy-Thailand flight, spoke of a sciatic nerve damage that almost made him miss the trip.
“The Argentine pontiff has long suffered from the same disease, which produces pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve and descends one or both legs through the lower back,” said journalist Inés San Martín in a report for the Crux, information portal on the Catholic Church. “Francisco offered a remedy in a few words to the priest: ‘A glass of brandy’.”
Monday (24), two days before joking that Brazilians were more interested in alcohol than prayer, it was another drink that caught Francisco’s attention. He walked past the Vatican Radio office and found a Rio Grande do Sul employee there with a bowl of chimarrão in his hand. He asked for a drink of the mate, but was surprised that the herb was not Argentinian. Better to stick to the wine.