Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The meeting between Pope Francis and Ana Maria Araújo, widow of Paulo Freire
May 27, 2015
Ana Maria Araújo Freire, widow of Paulo Freire (1921-1997) and an educator too, was received last month by Pope Francis in a private audience at the Vatican. According to Nita, as Ana Maria is known, the meeting lasted 40 minutes.
The pope received Paulo Freire's widow and told her he had read Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Ana Maria gave him a letter in which she asked his help to open the Vatican archives, in an attempt to understand what influence Freire's ideas had on the pontificates.
Brazil's most renowned educator, Freire based his work on the idea that, instead of receiving knowledge passively, students need to form critical consciousness -- only then would they be citizens with autonomy.
The meeting was mediated by Dom Cláudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paulo and the Brazilian priest closest to the pontiff.
At the audience, in which she was accompanied by her daughter Heliana Hasche and a couple of friends, Nita gave Francis a letter in which she praised his papacy and asked for help that he might intercede with priests ("mostly Dominicans, Jesuits and Salesians") to surrender letters they had received from Paulo Freire on liberation theology.
The current of Latin American origin that advocates for a Church turned towards the poor, always close to Marxism, as Freire was, has had access to the Vatican again with the coming of Francis to power -- it was persecuted during John Paul II's papacy (1978-2005).
The educator also asked the pope to study the possibility of opening the Vatican archives "so that we might know if there was, and what was, the influence and presence of Paulo Freire's ideas with Pope Paul VI and other papacies, since the publication and assimilation of Pedagogy of the Oppressed in 1970."
Nita gave the pope a box with all of Paulo Freire's books (in Portuguese), as well as the biography she wrote of the educator, to whom she was married ten years.
Finally, she invited Francis to eat pizza in the streets of Rome as if he were an ordinary mortal and, on his next visit to Brazil, to taste a feijoada made by her. According to the educator, the pope laughed.