News East West
NEW YORK: A woman, who claims she was the childhood sweetheart of the new Pope Francis, says he devoted his life to God after she refused his marriage proposal. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who comes from Buenos Aires in Argentina, was elected new Pope earlier this week and he has taken Pope Francis as his new name.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Amalia Damonte, 76, said that when she and Jorge Mario Bergoglio were just 12 years old in the Buenos Aires suburb of Flores, he told her, “If I can’t marry you, I’ll become a priest.”
Amalia said their childhood “romance” soon withered due to the opposition of her parents. “When we were young, he wrote me a letter and I didn’t reply to him. What I wanted was for him to disappear from the map. My father had hit me because I had dared to write a note to a boy.”
She said, “He had drawn for me (in the letter) a house which had a red roof and said that it was the house he was going to buy for me when we were married. I never saw him after that – my parents kept me away from him and did everything possible to separate us.”
Amalia added, “I have nothing to hide, as it was a thing between children and totally pure. I think he asked me to marry him because he wanted to follow the example he had seen at home and form a family.
“In love? At that age, I didn’t know love – I only knew love when I was much older. I was just a little thing.”
Amalia said she has only best wishes for her childhood sweetheart. “He is a good man, the son of a working class family. I hope he can achieve all the good that he holds in his heart.”
But the new Pope’s younger sister, Maria Elena Bergoglio, who is 12 years his junior, said she never knew anything about his young love life. She also said her brother never wanted to be pope and now faced a lifetime of “infinite loneliness”.
“He didn’t want to be Pope and when we chatted privately about it, we joked at the prospect and he would say ‘no, please no’,” she told the paper.
“I didn’t want him to become Pope because he’s going to be very far away and second because it is such a large responsibility.
“But I am also totally proud that he is the new Pope – because he’s the first from outside Europe, because he’s Latin American, he’s Argentine and he’s my brother,” the sister added.
She said “having a brother who is a pope is a blessing from God. It’s a historic moment – he’s the first non-European pope, the first Latin American and the first Argentinian and it falls to him, my brother.”