It has not been a long interview, barely 35 minutes for the four of them, but Isabel Díaz Ayuso and José Luis Martínez-Almeida have achieved what they wanted: a meeting with Pope Francis on the eve of the electoral campaign. Accompanied by the government delegate in Madrid, Mercedes González (who, no, is not running in the elections), and flanked by Cardinal Carlos Osoro, the president and the mayor of Madrid thanked Bergoglio for granting the San Isidro Jubilee Year.
Although, for some, it was just an excuse to achieve what politicians of another ideological cut had previously achieved, such as Vice President Yolanda Díaz –curiously, harshly criticized for this by Ayuso– or Minister Bolaños. However, the Pope has focused on asking them for “unity in diversity” and, especially, focused on the most vulnerable.
After the appointment, and in a ‘canutazo’ to the accredited media in the Plaza de San Pedro, the president of the Community highlighted the cordiality of the event. “I have told him that many people from Madrid asked us to convey the affection and closeness of the people of Madrid,” started Ayuso, who admitted that he takes “a pleasant memory for an unforgettable moment.”
“He was very interested in the neighborhoods, in people in need,” added Ayuso, who stressed the need, formulated by Francisco, to “govern based on principles, values, a way of seeing life, but not in based on ideologies that in the end what they do is grids, which do nothing more than divide the people”. “(The Pope) has asked us for unity in diversity, and we will take that into account, of course,” added the president.
“Above all, he asked us to stop talking so much about the past, about the wars, and I couldn’t agree more,” said one Ayuso who, she confirmed, had not touched on the Valley of the Fallen with Francisco. “We have not talked about politics or powers that are not mine,” she said, although she advanced that a new law will “protect the religious symbols of all churches,” concluded the president quoted by the Efe agency.
Almeida, “heir of the great Manuela”
In the initial hand kiss, after Osoro introduced Ayuso to the Pope, it was his turn to introduce Martínez-Almeida. Francisco shakes hands with the mayor and, looking at Osoro, says: “the heir of the great Manuela” (referring to Manuela Carmena, former mayor of Madrid). At the exit, Almeida did not refer to these words and considered it “an honor” to be received by the Pope.
“As a Catholic, it is one of the most exciting moments I am going to have in my life,” confessed the councilor, who together with the rest of the guests gave the Pope water from San Isidro, some facsimiles about the life of the patron saint of Madrid and the t-shirts from Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Getafe. “They have been very amusing.”
“Unity does not mean uniformity”
Regarding what Francisco has transmitted to them, Almeida reiterated “the need to serve the people, for there to be unity, for us to be focused on people and especially the most vulnerable.” “He has told us that unity does not mean uniformity, but that we put people at the center of our policies, even above ideologies. That the most vulnerable are the ones who need us the most, and that we act for the benefit of the common interest”.
Finally, the Government delegate, Mercedes González, stressed the importance of “always putting the priority in the people”, highlighting the Pope’s “deep knowledge” of “what is happening in Madrid society”.
For the Cardinal of Madrid, Carlos Osoro, “it is a grace to be able to be with the political leaders of all the administrations” in Rome. At the time, he was convinced of “seeking unity, the unity of all, the good of all.” “The Pope invites us to seek unity, what unites us. That is always good for all of us. It has been endearing”, concluded the vice-president of the Episcopal Conference.
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