July 13, 2011 By

Pope Francis Shakes up the Vatican

4_4On his first anniversary as pontiff on Thursday, Pope Francis defended “slum priests” from the accusation that their advocacy for the downtrodden reflected a different, leftist church that is remote from conservative Vatican values.

“The work of the priests in the slums of Buenos Aires is not ideological, it’s apostolic, and therefore forms part of the same church. Those who think that it’s another church don’t understand how they work in the slums. The important thing is the work,” Francis insisted in an interview made public on Thursday. Francis was Argentina’s top Roman Catholic leader before he was elected pope. His support for the crowded slums made him a cherished and a popular figure among the very poor.

The community radio station FM Bajo Flores that broadcasts from the Villa 1-11-14 slum across from the San Lorenzo soccer stadium interviewed the pope at his residence in the Vatican. The dialogue was broadcast for the first time on a huge screen before a crowd gathering inside the slum’s gymnasium on Thursday. Francis was asked about Padre Carlos Mugica and other members of Argentina’s Movement of Third World Priests, a branch of liberation theology.

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