Does Pope Francis visit his family?

Q. I have tried in vain to find out whether Pope Francis has ever had the chance to visit in person with his only surviving sibling since he was elected pope. (I have read that she - Maria Elena Bergoglio, his youngest sister - has not been well.) Will Pope Francis ever get a chance to see her? - A reader in Honolulu

A. I can find nothing to indicate that Maria Elena has visited Rome since her brother's election in March 2013.His only surviving sibling, 12 years younger than the pope, she has been hospitalized briefly a couple of times during the past two years with various ailments, which I do not believe were life-threatening.

When her brother was elected pope, he telephoned her immediately during his first free moments. She told an interviewer that she had not expected his election and actually was rooting for someone else because she wanted her brother back home.

In late 2014, Maria Elena's son said in a Latin American blog that his uncle "Jorge" was continuing to telephone his family once or twice a week. He said that they had not yet traveled to Rome and preferred to wait instead until the pope was able to visit Argentina.

In September 2015, Msgr. Guillermo Karcher, an Argentinian priest who is on the Vatican staff, said that the pope is expected to travel to Argentina in 2017. (Maria Elena had told the press that she wants "two minutes to hug him.")

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015