Uruguay’s Jose Mujica says Pope Francis “a good neighbor.” Francis calls Mujica a “wise man.”

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More encouraging news from a Pope who continues to surprise Catholics and non-Catholics alike:

“The Pope is very pleased for having met with a wise man”, was the official report from the Holy See following the 45 minute private audience of Francis with Uruguayan president Jose Mujica, the longest so far with a head of state. Although Mujica is a declared atheist and did not attend the inauguration of the first Latinamerican pope last March, he did request an interview with Francis, which took place on Saturday.

Continues…

This was the first meeting of the Uruguayan president with the Pope. Originally it was planned that Francis before going to Brazil for the Youth Convention next July would stop in Uruguay and Argentina, but it was not possible and thus the special meeting this weekend at the Vatican.

“I think that if they let him, he’s going to make a revolution inside the Church, towards simplicity”, said Mujica on the meeting with Francis, adding “he’s just like talking to a good neighbour you’ve known for years”.

Mujica described the meeting as very positive, admitting the significance and influence of the Catholic Church in Latinamerica, and underlined “it was essential to have fluid relations with the church”.

Jose Mujica understands socialism and religion are not necessarily at odds. At its best religion is –like socialism– an ideological environment designed to foster humanity’s better angels. For all the professions of faith in an afterlife or activist divinity, universal human good emerges from and sustains the right-lived moment. The good that emerges alongside an act of prayerful charity is the same as an act of solidarity.

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