December 13, 2013
Mujica's absence at Vatican: 'We are not believers'
While South American leaders Rafael Correa, Dilma Rousseff and Sebastián Piñera showed themselves deeply moved at Pope Francis' inauguration mass, Uruguayan president José "Pepe" Mujica did not attend the historic ceremony.
International media has echoed the news about the election of Argentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope comparing his austere habits with Mujica’s mould-breaking style that seems to challenge the dogmas of the consumption societies. The BBC actually called Francis “the Vatican’s new Mujica”.
However, the president of Uruguay did not attend the historic event and it was her wife and senator Lucía Topolansky who explained that they considered “more convenient” if Catholic vice president Danilo Astori led Uruguay’s official delegation in the Vatican.
“We are not believers,” Topolansky pointed in statements to a local radio station and added that “Uruguay is an absolutely lay country” where “the Church is separated from the state since the past century.”
In that sense, Uruguay’s First lady considered that her country differs from the rest of Latin American nations but stressed Mujica’s government has a “great respect” for religions and “freedom of worship.” “Our country did not live through it as something central in our society, that is the truth,” she said.
Still, the Uruguayan senator agreed on the significance of the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to head the Roman Catholic Church. “The Pope being from the Rio de la Plata is something good. Since things have a political interpretation, it is a novelty that he is Latin American,” she added and congratulated the pontiff hoping his papacy successes as “all religions have their weight and create hope.”
Topolansky analyzed as well the statements of Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner after the meeting she held with Pope Francis yesterday when she detailed that Bergoglio referred to Latin America as the “Patria Grande.” A slogan, Mujica’s wife said, that used to belong to left-wing sectors in the past and that shows there is a "come-back" to the work and thinking of regional liberators San Martín and Simón Bolívar.