All the “Bergoglioisms” of Francis The Slang of Francis/2: Do not “balconear” life but dive in as did Jesus

As I promised when I posted the first of this series of 17 articles I am translating on the “Porteno” slang words that Pope Francis uses, here is article number 2.  If you missed the first one with the more detailed explanation I gave, click here.

By Jorge Milia, August 3013, Terre D’America blogspot

In the Argentine slang1, the verb “balconear” indicates “to stand idly by the window” or on the balcony.  As in Italian, it describes an attitude of merely curiosity where there is no participation, as a spectator in front of whom something is happening that does not concern him and then he can afford to always criticize the aspects he does not like or on which he does not agree: he, however, does not even involve himself, held apart.

In the years of our childhood and adolescence when the young teacher Bergoglio was our professor, the school of the Immaculate Conception of Santa Fe participated with the other Catholic schools in the procession of Corpus Christi together with the faithful.  During the long route that passed all through the urban center, it was common to see many “balconears”; families who with some religious images and a couple of candles on the balcony attracted attention and devoted themselves to greeting the faithful in procession and to make comments.  In certain areas, almost every hundred meters, there would be one or two cases of persons who dedicated themselves to the same “practices”.  It surprised me a bit because my maternal grandparents, those who were still alive, also the elderly and those full of afflictions walked with the members of the parish and were never taken to consider the idea of “balconear.”

I talked about it one day with a priest of the school, and he gave me a very simple explanation: “There are some of the old ones that use the faith in the same way they use hair dye.  Faith is not lived from the balcony, but in walking.”  A phrase that would return to my memory in 2010 making the Camino De Santiago and that refers to a Church on the way.

When Papa Francesco says “Do not let others be the agents of change, you be those that construct the future” I also felt young and I thought how beautiful it is that these youth full of hope today understand and between thirty and forty years remember his words and have the balance of the results.  Then, when he insisted to not be a “balconear”, to dive into life as Jesus did, I felt a great tenderness for that friend for what came out of the depths of his “porteno”2 soul.

For Papa Francesco—and it is difficult that there are some who do not understand—the Christian is an agent, not a spectator.  In a short time he has shown that the unique balcony from which he can participate is the loggia of St. Peter’s.  It was from this balcony that we were facing on rainy evening a Pope that came from the end of the world, greeted all those he saw with a simple “Good Evening” and conquered the heart of the world asking them to pray for him…..


  1.  Slang typical of the city of Buenos Aires, mostly used in Tango
  2.  An adjective that refers to the citizenry where all speech is peppered with slang typical of the

inhabitants of Buenos Aires.

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