“Why in the world is the Vicar of Christ coming to me?” said Father Paquito, when asked how he would receive Pope Francis when he visits him in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The Jesuit priest who in a few days will be 91, was very excited about his get together with his old friend. Fr. Francisco Cortés, better known as Paquito, was born in Malaga, Spain, July 10, 1924 and came to Ecuador in 1963, serving since then at the Javier School in Guayaquil. According to El Universal newspaper, the priest met then-Fr. Bergoglio in the early 1980s, when he was the provincial for the Jesuits in Argentina and he visited Ecuador looking for a place to send his novices. Years later, they met again, when Fr. Paquito traveled to Argentina for the priestly ordination of some Jesuits that he had spent time with in Ecuador. According to The Wall Street Journal, Pope Francis chanced across Fr. Paquito’s doctor, María Panchana, in 2014 in Rome and asked her: “How’s Paquito doing? Say hi to him for me and tell him I’m going to see him soon,” Dr. Panchana recalled. In February this year, César Pérez, editor of El Universo newspaper in Guayaquil, showed the pontiff a cell phone video in which Fr. Paquito greeted his old friend. Pope Francis told him that he wanted to see Fr. Paquito. The journalist replied, “Then you’re going to have to go to Guayaquil.” The Jesuit priest has some heart problems and is in constant contact with the doctors. “They tell me he wants to talk with me. I don’t know what about…when he was named Pope he sent me more than five messages personally greeting me. Not Fr. Francisco Cortés but Fr. Paquito,” the priest told Agence France Presse news agency. Paquito is the affectionate form of the Spanish nickname Paco, for Francisco. “For me, this is an act of humility for that man, to remember a person with no merit at all, nobody special, he’s insisted he wants to see me,” he added. The occasion was set up for July 6 at the Javier School, where Pope Francis was to have lunch with his Jesuit brothers.
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