Pope Francis in his own words

by | May 27, 2014 | Pope

Vatican Insider ANDREA TORNIELLIVatican Insidder offers this collection of Pope Francis words on the flight home speaking to journalists off the cuff for an hour despite his exhausting trip.

See a collection of his other reports for La Stampa

Abuse against minors

“At the moment there are three bishops under investigation. One has already been convicted and the punishment needs to be decided. There will be no preferential treatment when it comes to child abuse. In Argentina we call those who receive preferential treatment “spoilt children”. There will be no “spoilt children” in this case. It is a very serious problem. When a priest commits abuse, he betrays the Lord’s body. A priest must guide children towards sainthood. And the child trusts him. But instead, he abuses him or her. This is very serious. It’s like celebrating a black mass! Instead of steering him or her towards the sainthood you create a problem that will stay with him or her for all of his or her life. Soon there will be a mass with some abuse victims in St. Martha’s House. Then I will hold a meeting with them. A zero tolerance approach needs to to be adopted with regards to this issue.”

The 15 million Euros that were embezzled from the IOR and given to Lux Vide and the financial scandals

“The Lord Jesus once told his disciples: scandals are inevitable, we are humans and all of us are sinners. The issue is preventing more from happening. Economic administration requires honesty and transparency. The two commissions, the one which investigated the IOR and the one which looked into the financial and economic situation of the Vatican as a whole, have now reached their conclusions and will carry forward the recommended reforms, along with the ministry and Secretariat for the Economy headed by cardinal Pell. But there will still be incongruities, there always will be because we are humans. And the reform process needs to be ongoing. The Church’s fathers said the Church must be “simper reformanda”. We are sinners, we are weak. The Secretariat for the Economy will help prevent scandals and problems. For example, 1600 illegitimate accounts have been closed down in the IOR. The IOR is there to help the Church, bishops, dioceses, Vatican staff, their widows and embassies have the right to an account with the IOR, but no one else. It is not an open thing. And this was work well done, closing down the accounts of those who were not entitled to have one. I would like to say one thing: the question regarding the 15 million Euros is still being looked into; it is not yet clear what happened.”

The gestures made during the visit to the Holy Land and the meeting with Peres and Abu Mazen

“The most genuine gestures are those which are made spontaneously. I had thought something could be done but none of the concrete gestures I made was conceived that way. Some things, like the invitation to the two presidents we had thought of doing there, during the visit, but there were lots of logistical problems, many, the place where we intended for it to happen was not an easy one. But in the end, the invitation was accepted and I hope the meeting will go well. But my gestures were not pre-planned, I just do what comes to me spontaneously. Just to clarify about the meeting in the Vatican. The purpose of the meeting will be to pray not meditate. The two presidents and I will only meet to pray and I believe that prayer is important and doing this helps. Then they will go home. There will be a rabbi, a Muslim and me. I have asked the Custody of the Holy land to deal with the practical side of things.”

Populism and European elections

“I only had time to pray the Our Father a few times but I have had no news regarding the elections. Populism in Europe, trust and mistrust, some theories about the Euro … I don’t know much about this kind of thing. But unemployment is serious: we have a global economic system that is centred on money, nit a human person. In order to keep going, this system discards things. It discards children: birth rates are not high, in Italy the average couple has less than two children and in Spain even less. It discards the elderly, even though euthanasia in disguise, medicine is only administered up until a certain point. And young people  are discarded too.  I think unemployment among Italy’s young is 40%, in Spain it’s 50%, in Andalucia, 60%. There is an entire generation of people that is not studying or working. This culture of waste is very serious. Europe is not the only place where tit exists,  but it is strongly felt in Europe. It is an inhumane economic system. Like I said int he Evangelii Gaudium, this economic system kills.”

On Palestine’s capital, Jerusalem

“There are many proposals regarding the Jerusalem issue, the Catholic Church and the Vatican’s position is based on a religious point of view: a city of peace for the three religions. Concrete measures for peace must be negotiated, it may be decided that this part will become the capital of one state and the other part, of the other state … But I don’t feel it is my place to say that this or that must be done, it would be foolish on my part, I think we need to go into this in a spirit of fraternity and mutual trust, following the path of negotiation. Courage is needed and I pray to the Lord that these two presidents have the courage to go on. About Jerusalem, all I will say is that it should be the city of peace of the three religions.”

Priestly celibacy

“The Catholic Church has married priests in the Eastern rites. Celibacy is not a dogma of faith, it is a rule of life that I appreciate a great deal and I believe it is a gift for the Church. The door is always open given that it is not a dogma of faith.”

Relationship with the Orthodox Church

“With Bartholomew we talked about unity, that comes along the path, during a journey, we could never create unity at a theological congress. He confirmed to me that Athenagoras did tell Paul VI; “Let’s put all theologians on an island and we’ll go on together.” We need to help one another, in terms of churches for example, even in Rome many Orthodox faithful use Catholic Churches. We spoke about the pan-Orthodox council so that something can be done about the date for Easter. It is a bit ridiculous: tell me, when does your Christ rise fromt he dead? Mine will next week. Well, mine was resurrected last week. Bartholomew and I speak as brothers, we love each other and we talk about the difficulties we face as leaders. We spoke a great deal about ecology and coming up with a joint initiative to deal with this problem.”

Visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines and religious freedom

“There are two Asian trips planned: one to South Korea and then next January, a two-day trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, to the area affected by the tsunami. The problem of the lack of freedom in the practice of religion is not only limited to some Asian countries but extends to others too. Religious freedom is something not all countries have. Some control to some extent, others take measures that end up being full on persecution. There are martyrs today, Christian, catholic and non-Catholic martyrs. In some place you are forbidden from wearing a cross, possessing a bible or teaching children catechism. I think there are more martyrs now that the early Church had seen. We need to approach certain places carefully, to go and help them, pray a lot for these Churches that are suffering, suffering a great del and even bishops and the Holy See are working with discretion in order to help Christians in these countries, but it’s not easy task. In one country, for example, people are forbidden to pray together. Christians there want to celebrate the Eucharist and there’s a man who is an ordinary workman but acts as a priest and he goes there to the table with the others: they pretend they’re drinking tea but they are celebrating the Eucharist. If the police turns up, they hide the books so it just looks as though they are having tea.”

My potential resignation

“I will do what the Lord tells me to do. Pray and try to follow God’s will. Benedict XVI no longer had the strength and honestly, as a man of faith, humble as he is, he took this decision. Seventy years ago, Popes Emeritus didn’t exist. What will happen with Popes Emeritus? We need to look at Benedict XVI as an institution, he opened a door, that of the Popes Emeritus. The door is open, whether there will be others, only God knows. I believe that if a bishop of Rome feels he is losing his strength, he must ask himself the same questions Pope Benedict XVI did.”

Pius XII’s beatification

“The cause is open, I looke dinto it and no miracle has been found yet. So the process has stalled. We have to respect the reality of this cause. But there’s no miracle and at least one is required for beatification. I can’t think of whether I will beatify him or not.”

Remarried divorcees

“The Synod will be on the family, the problem it is facing, its assets and the current situation it is in. The preliminary report presented by Cardinal Kasper contained five chapters, four of which outlined positive points regarding the family and their theological foundation. The fifth chapter was to do with the pastoral problem of separation and the annulment of marriages  and the administration of communion to divorced people who marry a second time, comes into this. What I didn’t like, was what some people, within the Church as well, said about the purpose of the Synod: that it intends to allow remarried divorcees to take communion, as if the entre issue boiled down to a case. We know that today the family is facing a crisis, a global crisis, young people don’t want to marry or they live together. I wouldn’t like us to fall into this question: will it be possible for communion to be administered or not? The pastoral problem regarding the family is vast. Each case needs to be looked at separately. I would like to return to something Benedict XVI said on three occasions: the procedures for the annulment of marriage must be looked into, the faith with which a person enters marriage must also be examined and we also need to make it clear that the divorced are not excommunicated. So often they are treated as thought they have been excommunicated. Choosing the theme for the Synod on the Family was a powerful spiritual experience, the discussion turned slowly towards the family. I am sure it was the Spirit of the Lord that guided us to this point.”

Obstacles standing in the way of Curia reform

“The first obstacle is me! We have done a great deal, we have consulted the entire Curia and things are now being studied to make the organisation lighter, by merging dicasteries for example. One key point is the economic factor; the dicastery for the Economy must work with the Secretariat of State. This July we will be holding a four-day work session and then at the end of September, another four days, but work is underway. Not all results can be clearly seen, but the economic issue was the one which came out first, there were some problems which the press talked about quite a bit. The path of persuasion is very important. There are some people who don’t understand. But I am happy, we have worked hard.”

See also National Catholic Register insights



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