“From the Andes to the Apennines”

Pubblicato dal Centro Italiano di Solidarietà don Mario Picchi


Published on May 15th, 2013 | by CeIS don Mario Picchi


Pictured Francisco Apples with Ismael Quiles, Master of Novices Father Bergoglio

Having the control stick does not mean giving orders and impose, but to serve “

Papa Francesco

Francisco Mele1

Bergoglio Pope inaugurates a new kind of leadership. And ‘the Pope bridge between the people and the Other itself – Christ -, in contrast to the narcissistic leadership of the manipulators of the masses, others are using as a bridge to get to themselves.

I start from this premise to tell the path that led me to work at CeIS.

The Pope and the Jesuits

I share with Papa Francesco ties with the Jesuits Argentines.

The Board of Salvador in Buenos Aires is one of the oldest colleges in the country; developed in the mid nineteenth century, when the Jesuits in Argentina have created a school of excellence to form the country’s ruling class, allowing you to attend the courses to deserving have-nots. In the mid-sixties Papa Francesco – then father Jorge Mario Bergoglio – I held the chair of psychology, then left teaching to his appointment as Provincial of the Order, but shortly after returning there to fill the role of Chancellor and Head of the Spiritual Community College in El Salvador.

The rector of my university was Ismael Quiles, who was Master of Novices father Bergoglio, his professor of philosophy and also my teacher.

The same professor of psychology given by Fr Bergoglio, years later was assigned to me; I have taught for ten years, that is, until I came to Italy, sent there by the Argentine Government to follow a course to CeIS output from addiction, of which I was involved already in Buenos Aires.

The Argentines, European exile

Borges had called the Argentines of Europeans in exile, that were in those lands in order to find peace and a peaceful way of life fleeing war and poverty. This happened after the two world wars, in the thirties and fifties. But a few decades later were the Argentines at having to leave to escape political persecution and economic crises.

I am the son of immigrants of the second wave. The period of the dictatorship of General coincided with the years of my university studies. I risked being arrested several times because I was reading books on psychology, sociology, anthropology – publications considered subversive literature -, and only the University of the Jesuits allowed me to deepen the materials necessary for the formation of a therapist, forbidden by the regime in other universities, in which he was only allowed to apply psychology to the study of animals, why it was not put into question the social system established by violence. The University of El Salvador was really a protected place of critical thinking that is worth of the social doctrine of the Church and of the documents issued by Vatican II.

Drug Addiction

After the return of democracy in Argentina, in addition to the work of psychoanalyst and professor at the College of El Salvador, I directed a school child, worked in a prison psychiatric hospital and a prison. For these experiences, I was called by the Secretary of Human Development and Family, to develop prevention projects for young people, began to emerge at an alarming theme Addiction. Julio Bello, Secretary for Children and Families, I inserted the Commission of the Fight against drugs conducted by Wilbur Grimson.

Looking out my window of the Ministry of the Plaza de Mayo, every Thursday saw the crowd of women from white handkerchiefs on their heads who demanded justice for their disappeared. That freedom finally reached, many young people did not know how to manage it; the escaped, they were afraid of, were not prepared for such an autonomy. Era una situazione triste. We had to stop the danger, While her fate was missing ormai gave a male irreparabile: Perhaps it was a consequence of the drug, dictated by political and economic crisis that made frail people.

In Europe, however, the drug was primarily a result of an apparent well-being, together with the disappointment of the political project of the sixty-eight. You were trying to formulate plans through which leave the problem: not only by coercion, behavioral, or related to the illusion of following a charismatic leader, or even removing the dependence on the drug only through the work, prayer and community life, or even following the medical model-psychiatric, or what inspired Alcoholics Anonymous etc.. It also wanted to get the addict to decriminalize, replacing the prison community.

One who takes drugs does not do it by accident or pushed by friends, although this can sometimes happen. The person who takes drugs is a problem that must be found and solved. Don Mario Picchi said that an addict is a guy who has a problem in most2. To solve this problem, requires operators with a specific preparation.

The choice of CeIS

I left for Europe, to follow a course that would allow me to bring in Argentina that methodology on the topic of drugs adopted by CeIS which took account of the ancient Christian communities along the contribution of science, and especially the model Tavistock Institute. My training learned in the Community Jesuit derived from the integration of the knowledge of science, of philosophy and theology. This training has allowed me to establish a direct relationship with the Project Man that was taking place in Rome.

Don Mario Picchi, the founder

In 1986 the CeIS was in full transformation. He had just moved its headquarters from Piazza Cairoli – in the center of Rome – a your Ambrosini – in the area of ​​the EUR -, where the width of the building obtained from the Ministry of the Interior had allowed him to add to his other services activities according to a project he was working on.

I came on behalf of the National Commission against Addiction to start a collaboration between Italy, the United Nations and Argentina. I would have stayed for a couple of messengers to follow a course of training at Castel Gandolfo, giving my time indications on the Argentinian project that was developing through the Ministry of Health. The first meeting with Don Mario Picchi, founder of the institution, was a clash. We went to the Embassy Argentina where we had been invited to give a lecture, Peaks when I said quietly: “I do not believe in psychology”. I told him just serenely: “Do you believe – as I – in something that is not seen. Because then you can not believe in psychology, you do not see, but seeks to understand human suffering? What you see!”. He replies: “Always your ruminations by these psychologists!… E tu poi, ‘ve studied with the Jes”s!”. Thus began our friendship. I was the first psychologist to work permanently in the CeIS, bringing professional impression, which would then be expanded through the entry of psychotherapists.

I felt a seething with enthusiasm in setting future activities that were providing, through a development that the discourse on drug embraced the needs of a society in crisis, in which it was possible to affect a change. And not only through a certain gooders for dealing with the problems – that would have been positive with respect to the indifference -, but with the tools of individual psychology and group and family therapy to affect the personality marked by discomfort. The purpose of the philosophy of CeIS was back at the center of the problem is not the drug – a consequence of the discomfort -, but the person in all its complexity.

Juan Corelli e l’Argentina

The first meeting with Juan Corelli was instrumental to arouse in me a kind of confidence in the future of CeIS. We had in common the Spanish language, a willingness to deal with new situations, difficult and challenging.

He knew the world through his travels, who had brought in the advanced countries on the cultural. He loved in particular Argentina: when he was a dancer of the Ballet of the Marquis de Cuevas and a famous choreographer, had several times of the shows held at the Teatro Avenida in Buenos Aires. As St. Augustine says, you can not rationalize the sympathy and friendship, that they still exist and are important elements in our lives. For these reasons, perhaps our collaboration began immediately with enthusiasm. And then, from two months in which I should have stopped, decided to gradually CeIS to remain for a period that was stretching; also because, being born in Italy, I had always wanted to return there to stay. Yet this choice cost me. While Stave partendo of Buenos Aires per l’Italia, I had phoned the dean of the Faculty of Psychology of the University of El Salvador and offered the Chair of Forensic Psychology. “Very well! – I had immediately responded – I’ll be back in two months “. The teaching was supposed to start in March, I would be back in time. I did not return, but my presence was served to activate the relationship between Italy and Argentina: more than two hundred Argentines are then come over the years to attend the training school on the way out of addiction Castel Gandolfo, which opened an office in Buenos Aires connected.

2 In. Maricla Boggio, Become man over drugs, Bulzoni ed., Rome, 1981.



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