Paul Vallely over at Newsweek wrote an interesting story on Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, and his life in Argentina, "The Crisis that Changed Pope Francis." The lengthy account centers on a period of time in which Bergoglio was sent to Córdoba, Argentina, more than 400 miles away from Buenos Aires.
Apparently, Bergoglio had no known assignment in Córdoba. Vallely's thesis is that while in Córdoba, Bergoglio experienced an interior or spiritual crisis that transmuted Bergoglio into the person he is today.
Bergoglio, by his own admission, described his leadership style as a Jesuit superior, a post he assumed at the age of 36, as fairly autocratic. Later, Bergoglio developed a leadership style based on listening, soliciting many opinions and collaboration.
Vallely writes: "He returned to Argentina only to be sent into two years internal exile in the remote city of Córdoba, some 650km from Buenos Aires, where he underwent what he later described as 'a time of great interior crisis.'
"What is clear now is that Bergoglio emerged from that spiritual crisis an utterly different man. He had had a profound conversion that reconfigured his understanding of the way God wanted him to behave. He developed a new model of leadership, one which involved listening, participation and collegiality. When he arrived at his next job, as an assistant bishop in Buenos Aires, the old Bergoglio had vanished. He had transmuted from an authoritarian reactionary into the figure of radical humility who is today turning the Vatican upside down."
This seems plausible; however, a well-placed source told me that this is simply not true and never happened. It will be interesting to see if Vallely's conversion thesis is contradicted in the days ahead.