Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Enrique Marcarian
Used to covering news with headlines like hyper-inflation, devaluation, coup d'etat, protest, bond default, election, poverty, earthquake, and even papal visit, I never imagined what it would be like to cover the papal conclave in the new Pope's country of origin. What made it even more baffling was the fact that the winner was someone we never dreamed it would be.
The day the conclave began was one when all the elements around me seemed to confirm that there was no chance of an Argentine Pope. I went to the Metropolitan Cathedral to take pictures of the optimistic worshippers, and found just one nun praying in a nearly empty church.
The next day, a phone call from a colleague shook me up. He told me that a journalist, who is notorious for always being wrong in his predictions, had said, "Bergoglio won't be elected for many reasons." That was when we decided we should go to the Cathedral.
Fifteen minutes before the name of the new Pope was announced, I commented to my editor that if he prepared the archive photos of Bergoglio, I would go to the Cathedral. His answer was to remain calm. “The next Pope will likely be Brazilian,” he said. In the end I’m not sure which of us was more surprised.
We immediately began searching for members of the new Pope’s family in Argentina, his old schools, and any details about his past life that might lead to historic photos.