In his May 2023 prayer intention:, Pope Francis prays that ecclesial movements and groups might daily rediscover their evangelizing mission. He calls them a “gift” and a “treasure” in the Church. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: Pope’s May prayer intention: For ecclesial movements and groups – Vatican News


I find these in-flight pressers, as well as interviews of Pope Francis by individual journalists, quite revealing for many reasons. Often they offer far more information on a particular issue than the Vatican news does on the same story. One example: we usually learn more about papal health issues, treatment and medications from the Holy Father himself than from official sources, as you can see from Francis’ answer to Aura Miguel about his March health scare.

PAPAL HEALTH:  Aura Maria Vistas Miguel, of Portugal’s Rádio Renascença asked the Holy Father: Your next stop is Lisbon. How do you feel about your health? We were taken by surprise when you went to hospital; you said you fainted. So do you feel you have the energy to go to World Youth Day? And would you like an event with a Ukrainian and a Russian youth as a sign for the new generations?

Pope Francis: First of all, [my] health. What I had was a sudden, strong illness at the end of the (March 29) Wednesday Audience. I didn’t feel like having lunch; I laid down for a bit. I didn’t lose consciousness, but yes, I had a very high fever and at three in the afternoon the doctor immediately took me to hospital. I had severe acute pneumonia in the lower part of the lung—thank God, I can tell you about it—to such an extent that the organism, the body, responded well. Thank God. This is what I had.

About Lisbon: The day before I left I spoke with Bishop Americo [Aguiar, auxiliary bishop of Lisbon], who came to see how things are there. I will go. I will go. I hope to make it. You can see that it is not the same as two years ago, with the cane. Now it is better. For the moment the trip is not cancelled.

A SECRET PEACE MISSION FOR UKRAINE? Eliana Ruggiero, an Italian journalist, asked Francis: If somehow (Metropolitan Hilarion and also (Hungarian Prime Minister) Viktor Orbán could accelerate the peace process in Ukraine and also make a meeting between you and Putin possible, if they could act “as intermediaries”?

Pope Francis: You can imagine that in this meeting we not only talked about Little Red Riding Hood, right? We talked about all these things (migrants, open borders). We talked about this because everyone is interested in the road to peace. I am willing. I am willing to do whatever needs to be done. Also, there is a mission going on now, but it is not public yet. Let’s see how … When it is public I will talk about it.

He also said: “Metropolitan Hilarion is someone I respect very much, and we have always had a good relationship. And he was kind enough to come and see me, then he came to the Mass, and I saw him here at the airport as well. Hilarion is an intelligent person with whom one can talk, and these relationships need to be maintained, because if we talk about ecumenism – I like this, I don’t like this – we must have an outstretched hand with everyone, even receive their hand.

“With Patriarch Kirill I have spoken only once since the war began, 40 minutes via zoom, then through Anthony, who is in Hilarion’s place now, who comes to see me. He is a bishop who was a parish priest in Rome and knows the environment well, and always through him I am in connection with Kirill.

“There was a meeting that we were to have in Jerusalem in July or June last year, but it was suspended because of the war: that will have to take place. And then, with the Russians I have a good relationship with the ambassador who is now leaving; he has been the ambassador in the Vatican for seven years, he is a great man, a man comme il faut, a serious, cultured and balanced person. My relationship with the Russians is mainly with this ambassador.”


PAPAL HEALTH: On May 1, 2023, Catholic Culture had this report, with additional background information so that the papal remarks can be put in perspective:

Pope Francis discussed the illness that led to his brief hospitalization late in March, during an exchange with reporters on his return flight from Hungary.

“I had severe acute pneumonia,” the Pope revealed.

That explanation contradicts statements issued by Vatican officials during the Pope’s stay in the Gemelli Hospital. The Vatican had originally attributed the Pope’s hospitalization to a “respiratory infection,” and later to “bronchitis”—specifically denying that he suffered from pneumonia.

Last week a friend reported that the Pope had been unconscious when he arrived at the hospital. Pope Francis contradicted that report as well. “I didn’t lose consciousness,” he said, but he said, “I had a very high fever.”

Pope Francis responded quickly to treatment in the hospital. He was discharged after three days, and quickly resumed his normal schedule, showing no lingering signs of his bout with the disease.

Just two days after he was rushed to the hospital, after suffering breathing difficulties following a public audience on March 29, the Pope was feeling well enough to visit a ward for pediatric cancer patients—a visit that would not likely have been approved if the Pontiff had a contagious disease. Pneumonia is not regarded as contagious if it is the result of chronic bronchitis. Vatican reporters have speculated that the Pope’s dramatic gain in weight in recent months is the result of steroid treatment to combat chronic bronchitis. The Vatican has not directly addressed that speculation.


Also Catholic Culture: Pope Francis said that the Vatican is involved in a secret mission to bring peace to Ukraine, in an exchange with reporters during his flight home from a visit to Hungary.

“There is a mission underway now, but it is not yet public,” the Pope said. He declined to say more about the effort. “When it is public, will reveal it,” he said.

The Pope stressed that he is “available to do anything” for the cause of peace. He sidestepped questions about whether he had pursued his secret mission during his three-day visit to Hungary.

During the trip the Pope met with Metropolitan Hilarion, who was once the chief foreign-affairs official of the Russian Orthodox Church. However Hilarion was removed from that post after criticizing the Russian offensive in Ukraine, which the Moscow Patriarchate has supported.

During his in-flight interview he Pope appeared to indicate that he was not in close touch with the current leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, saying that he had “spoken only once since the war began” with the Russian Patriarch Kirill. Speaking highly of Aleksandr Avdeyev, the Russian ambassador to the Holy See, the Pope said: “My relationship with the Russians is mainly with this ambassador.”

CNN, on the other hand, reports that Ukraine is not aware of Pope Francis’ peace initiative to end the war that he announced on his way back to Rome from Hungary. CNN cites an anonymous Ukrainian official close to the Office of the President of Ukraine who reportedly said, “”President Zelenskyy has not consented to any such discussions on Ukraine’s behalf. If talks are happening, they are happening without our knowledge or our blessing.”


On my first trip to Iraq, I visited all 6 dioceses in the northern region of Kurdistan. I spent an afternoon at a parish and the Mar Aoraha Chaldean shrine in the diocese and region of Zakho, the northwestern-most part of Kurdistan. In this photo, the pastor is indicating the shrine and telling me that, beyond the sign we are looking at, is the precise geographical point where Iraq, Turkey and Syria meet. Turkey and Syria, of course, are the two countries most affected by today’s earthquake.

Syria on the far left, Turkey on the right

Some photos of the shrine and adjacent area –

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Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent two separate telegrams today in Pope Francis’ name to Abp. Marek Solczyński, apostolic nuncio in Turkey and to Cardinal Mario Zenari apostolic nuncio in Syria, for the devastating earthquakes that have caused great loss of life and untold damage to structures.

The telegram to Abp. Solczyński said the Pope “was deeply saddened to learn of the huge loss of life caused by the earthquake in the area of south-eastern Türkiye, and he sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected. Entrusting those who have died to the loving mercy of the Almighty, he sends heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss. His Holiness likewise prays that the emergency personnel will be sustained in their care of the injured and in the ongoing relief efforts by the divine gifts of fortitude and perseverance.”

In the separate telegram to Cardinal Zenari in Syria, the Holy Father expressed his sadness at “the significant loss of life caused by the earthquake in the area of north-western Syria,” and offered “heartfelt prayers for the souls of the deceased and for all who mourn them. Entrusting those affected by this disaster to the providence of the Almighty,” he offered prayers “in particular for the emergency personnel involved in the ongoing relief efforts” and he invoked “upon the long-suffering Syrian people the divine blessings of strength and peace.”


Sunday afternoon, February 5, on the flight from South Sudan back to Rome, Pope Francis was joined by Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and Rev. Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the Church of Scotland for the traditional in-flight press conference with the 70 plus journalists on the papal plane.

The Pope answered questions on the criminalization of homosexual people, the late Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, an agreement signed in 2016 between the Holy See and the DRC on education and health, the United Nations and models of intervention (is a new one needed?), the war in Ukraine (would the Pope meet with Putin?), papal health, his energy, future trips in an era of “globalization of indifference.”

Vatican News carried a lengthy summary of the press conference: Pope: ‘Entire world is at war and in self-destruction’ – Vatican News




Returning this week to the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” are Patrick Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and David Naglieri, writer and director of the film produced by the Knights, “Teresa of Calcutta: No Greater Love.”

Last week, we talked about what inspired the Knights of Columbus to do this film, how David was brought in as writer and director, and the stages of filming and some of the highlights.

This week we look at some of the challenges and highlights of filming this documentary, and I ask both Patrick and David if they learned something they never knew about Mother Teresa during the filming.

As I wrote after the Rome premiere: “Teresa of Calcutta’s love was a no-holds-barred love that embraced all of God’s children but absolutely above all, ‘the least of God’s children,’ the heart-wrenchingly poor and destitute, the forgotten and rejected ones such as the disabled, victims of leprosy, the starving, those who were left to die in the hovels they called home or on the streets of their villages or towns, on the peripheries of large, well-to-do urban centers where people truly did not care about the “people they could not see.”

I interviewed Patrick and David at one of the sports centers built in Rome by the Knights of Columbus. They have an office in Rome as well (another story for another day).

The movie premiered in Rome at the end of August and will be shown in 940 theaters in the United States for two days only, Monday, October 3 and Tuesday, October 4. Go to for tickets.

The official website (where you can watch a trailer): Mother Teresa: No Greater Love Film – HOME (

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


Yesterday, September 15, on his six-hour flight from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan to Rome, Pope Francis gave an in-flight press conference to the 80 journalists who had accompanied him on his 38th international apostolic trip.

Here are two reports you might like to read that summarize the Q and A:

Pope: ‘Difficult to dialogue with those who started a war, but it must be done’ – Vatican News

Pope Francis: ‘The West has taken the wrong paths’ | Catholic News Agency



As I mentioned last week in this same spot, you all know by now that the Vatican has approved a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and the diocese of Peoria in Illinois where he is buried announced on Monday, November 18 that Sheen will be beatified in Peoria on December 21st.

Given that great news, last weekend I re-aired Part I of a conversation I had some time ago with Msgr. Richard Soseman, a pastor in the diocese of Peoria and also the vice postulator of the cause for sainthood of Archbishop Sheen. This weekend, I will re-air Part II of that conversation.

We talk about Msgr’s priestly life, his time studying in Rome and then working at Congregation for clergy, how his life and priesthood was impacted by Sheen, how he was assigned to the cause for sainthood, the role of a vice postulator and the miracle that led to Sheen’s beatification. A second miracle, by the way, is needed for canonization.

So stay tuned after the News and Q&A for Part II of that conversation.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

Here is Part I of my interview with Msgr. Soseman about Venerable Fulton Sheen – soon to be Blessed Fulton Sheen – that aired last weekend:


Though he had to be exhausted after his long and grueling trip to Asia, Pope Francis presided at the Wednesday general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square. As is customary after an apostolic visit, Francis focused the general audience catechesis on his just-completed trip to Thailand and Japan. He began by thanking civil and religious authorities and all those responsible for preparing the visit.

“In Thailand,” said the Pope, “I met with the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch as a sign of esteem and of the importance of promoting respect and cooperation between the religions, and I encouraged the local Church’s support of the sick and poor at Saint Louis hospital. Among the highlights of my visit were the meetings with priests, consecrated men and women, the bishops and finally a group of young people. In the two celebrations of Mass we saw clearly how the Gospel is being inculturated among the Thai people.

“In Japan,” said the Pope, “the motto for my visit was ‘Protect All Life’: a vital theme for a county that experienced the devastation of the atom bomb and more recent disasters. I was able to spend time in prayer at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where I met with survivors and their families, and I repeated my appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In my meeting with young people, I encouraged them to face the future without fear by opening their hearts to God’s love in prayer and in service of others. I ask you to join me in entrusting the people of Thailand and Japan to God’s loving providence. May he bless them with prosperity and peace.”

During his audience, the Holy Father announced that on Sunday, December 1, he will go to Greccio in Italy’s Lazio region to pray at the site of the first living nativity scene set up here by St. Francis in 1223. It is said that Francis wished to attract pilgrims to the presepe or nativity scene in Greccio and to discourage them from going to the real first Nativity scene in Bethlehem because of the dangers to traveling pilgrims as the Holy Land was then under control of Muslims. Since 1223 there has been a living nativity scene here every Christmas season.

Francis previously visited Greccio on January 4, 2016.

Addressing Italian pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of Albania and its people who have suffered greatly as a result of an earthquake that struck on Tuesday. The Pope said he was praying for the dead, the injured and their families and was close to all the Albanian people. He also noted that Albania was the first country in Europe that he wanted to visit.


Following is the transcript in English of the press conference held aboard the papal flight from Tokyo to Rome yesterday, November 26. As you will read at the end, “This unofficial transcript and translation is a collabortion of journalists at CNA, and its Italian and Spanish language news partners. Every effort is made for accuracy and clarity.”

I will go into detail in a separate post about the Pope’s remarks on Vatican finances, questionable transactions, possible corruption and the use of Peter’s Pence funds for investments such as buying real estate.


I posted this translation of the presser aboard the papal plane from Sweden on FB last evening but for technical reasons could not post it on Joan’s Rome until now.

By the way, as is by now traditional after an apostolic trip, Pope Francis visited St. Mary Major Basilica to bring flowers and gave thanks to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Salus populi Romani, for the successful outcome of his journey to Sweden.



Aboard the papal plane, Nov 1, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News).- During his flight from Sweden to Rome on Tuesday, Pope Francis gave a press conference to the journalists assembled aboard the papal plane. He reflected on refugees, the ordination of women, ecumenism, and the crisis in Venezuela.

He also addressed secularization, human trafficking, and his possible international trips in the coming year.


Please find below the full text of the Nov. 1 press conference, translated by Catholic News Agency:

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father. Welcome. We have… you spoke a lot of walking together, this when we speak of different religions…. We also have walked a bit of a path together, some for the first time. We have Swedish journalists. I think that it’s been a bit of time that Swedes haven’t come. Let’s begin with them. Elen Swedenmark, from the Swedish Agency, TT.

Pope Francis: Above all, I’d like to greet you and thank you for the work you’ve done and the cold you’ve taken on, but we left in time because they say that this evening it will go down another five degrees. We got out in time. Thanks so much… thanks for the company and for your work.

Elin Swedenmark: Thanks. Hello. Yesterday, Holy Father, you spoke of the revolution of tenderness and at the same time, we see ever more people from nations like Syria or Iraq are seeking refuge in European nations but some react with fear or there are even people who think that the arrival of these refugees might threaten the culture of Christianity and Europe. What is the message for the people who fear this development of the situation? And what is your message to Sweden, which after a long tradition of receiving refugees is now beginning to close its borders?

Pope Francis: First of all, I as an Argentine and a South American thank Sweden so much for this hospitality … because so many Argentines, Chileans, Uruguayans, in the time of the military dictatorships were welcomed in Sweden. Sweden has a long tradition of welcoming … not only receiving, but integrating, immediately seeking a home, school, work, integrating a people. I’ve been given the statistic, maybe I’m wrong, I’m not sure… what I remember, but I could be wrong…how many inhabitants does Sweden have? 9 million…of these 9 million, they’ve told me…850,000 would be the “new Swedes,” that is, immigrants or refugees and their children. This is the first.

Secondly, one must distinguish between migrant and refugee. The migrant must be treated with certain rules, because to emigrate is a right, but it is a very regulated right. On the other hand, being a refugee, one comes from a situation of war, of anguish, of hunger… from a terrible situation. And the status of the refugee needs more care, more work… and also in this, Sweden has always provided an example in settling, in teaching the language and the culture, also integrating into the culture. In this (issue) of integration of culture, we shouldn’t be afraid, eh! Because Europe was made with a continuous integration of culture, so many cultures, no? I believe that – I don’t say this in an offensive way, no no no, (but) as a curiosity – the fact that today in Iceland, practically in the Icelandic language of today, they can read their classics from 1,000 years ago without difficulty means that it is a nation with little migration or few waves, as Europe has had.

Europe was made from migrations and…Then, what do I think of the countries that close their borders? I think that theoretically, one cannot close their heart to a refugee. But also the prudence of those who administrate must be very open to receiving them, but also to making calculations as to how to settle them, because not only must a refugee be received, but he must be integrated. And, if a country has a “living capacity” – let’s call it that – of integration, but do it up to that limit…and if there’s anything more? Do more! But always with an open heart, it’s not human to close doors! It’s not human to close the heart!

And on the long term, one pays for this. Here, we pay politically, no? Just as also one can pay politically for an imprudence in calculations, in receiving more of those who can be integrated… because what is the danger when a refugee, a migrant (this counts for both of them) isn’t integrated, is not integrated, (when) – I permit myself the word, it’s perhaps a neologism – one is “ghettoed,” enters into a ghetto.

It’s a culture that doesn’t develop in relationship with the other culture. This is dangerous. I think that the worst counselor for the countries that tend to close their borders is fear. And the best counselor is prudence. I spoke with an official of the Swedish government in these days and they told me of some difficulties in this moment – and this goes for your last question – some difficulties because so many come that there isn’t time to sort them out and find school, home, work, learn the language. Prudence must do something. But, Sweden… I don’t believe that Sweden is, if it diminishes its capacity to welcome, may it do it for egoism because it has lost that capacity. If there is something of the sort, it’s for the latter that I said: that so many today look to Sweden because they know how to welcome, but there isn’t the necessary time to sort out everyone. I don’t know if I answered.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father. Now, a question from the Swedish nation, in the same row, Christina Kaplan.

Kristina Kappellin: Good morning. The Sweden that hosted this important ecumenical encounter has a woman as head of it’s own Church. What do you think: is it realistic to think of women priests also in the Catholic Church in the coming decades? And if not, why are Catholic priests afraid of competition?

Pope Francis: Reading the history a bit in the area where we were, I saw that there was a queen who was widowed three times. And I said: but, this woman is strong, and they told me: Swedish women are very strong, very good. And because of this some Swedish man looks for a woman from another nationality…I don’t know if it’s true, but…on the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the final word is clear, it was said by St. John Paul II and this remains. On competition, I don’t know…   Kristina Kappellin: (inaudible)

Pope Francis: If we read well the declaration made by St. John Paul II, it goes along this line, yes.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father.

Pope Francis: But women can do so many things better than men, even in the dogmatic field: to clarify, to perhaps give some clarity, not to say only a reference to a document. In Catholic ecclesiology there are two dimensions to think about. The Petrine dimension, which is from the Apostle Peter, and the Apostolic College, which is the pastoral activity of the bishops, as well as the Marian dimension, which is the feminine dimension of the Church, and this I have said more than one. I ask myself: who is most important in theology and in the mystic of the Church: the apostles or Mary on the day of Pentecost? It’s Mary! …the Church is a woman! It’s “la Chiesa” (in Italian), not “il Chiesa”…it’s “la Chiesa” and the Church is the spouse of Christ. It’s a spousal mystery. And in light of this mystery you will understand the reason for these two dimensions. The Petrine dimension, which is the bishops, and the Marian dimension, which is the maternity of the Church…but in the most profound sense. A Church doesn’t exist without this feminine dimension, because she herself is feminine.

Austen Ivereigh, Crux: Thank you very much, Holy Father this fall has been very rich in ecumenical encounters with the traditional churches; the Orthodox, the Anglican and now the Lutheran, but the majority of Protestants in the world today are from the Evangelical, Pentecostal, tradition. I have understood that on the vigil of Pentecost this coming year, there will be an event in Circus Maximus celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal. You have had many initiatives, perhaps for the first time as Pope with the evangelical leaders. What do you think of these initiatives, and what do you hope to achieve from the meeting next year? Thank you.

Pope Francis: With these initiatives, I would say that I had two, two types of initiatives, one when I went to Caserta to the charismatic church and also along this same line when in Turin I went to the Waldensian church. An initiative of reparation and of forgiveness because Catholics, part of the Catholic Church, didn’t behave well with them and had to apologize and heal a wound. The other initiative was dialogue, already since Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires for example we had three encounters in the Luna Park in Buenos Aires that had the capacity for 7,000 people, three encounters of evangelical and Catholic faithful in the line of the charismatic renewal, but also open. And the encounter was for the whole day. A pastor and an evangelical bishop preached and a Catholic priest and a Catholic bishop preached, or two and two, they were varied. In two of these encounters, if not in all three, but in two for sure, Fr. Cantalamessa, Preacher for the Papal Household spoke. The thing already comes from previous Popes since I was in Buenos Aires and it did us well, and we also had two three-day spiritual retreats of pastors and priests together. Pastors and priests, and a bishop, preached together and this helped a lot with dialogue, understanding the approach [to each other], to work and above all to work with the most needy together and to respect, great respect. These are with respect to the initiatives which come from Buenos Aires and already here in Rome, I have had some meetings with two pastors, with three already, some who come from the United States and from here in Europe, and what you mentioned is the celebration organized by the ICCRS, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the charismatic renewal, which was born ecumenical and for this reason it will be ecumenical in that sense and it will be at Circus Maximus.

I have planned, if God gives me life to go, to give a talk there. I think that it will last for two days, but it is still not organized. I know that they are going to do the vigil of Pentecost and I am going to give a talk in that moment. With respect to the charismatic renewal and with respect to the pentecostals, the word pentecostal, the pentecostal renewal: today, it is confused because it mentions many things, many associations and many ecclesial communities that aren’t equal, they are even opposite, so we need to specify further. They have been universalized so much that it is a misleading term. In Brazil, it’s typical, the charismatic renewal has proliferated a lot. It was born and one of the first opponents that it had in Argentina is what you were speaking about, because I was provincial of the Jesuits at the time when this began, and I forbid the Jesuits to get involved in it and I publicly said that when they were going to have a liturgical celebration, it had to be a liturgical celebration and not a school of Samba. I said this. And, today, I think the opposite when it is well done, more so in Buenos Aires. Every year, once per year, we had Mass of the ovement of the charismatic renewal in the cathedral where everyone came, and I also suffered a process of recognizing the good that the renewal had given to the Church and here we cannot forget the great figure of Cardinal Suenens, who had that prophetic and ecumenical vision.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father. And now Eva Fernandez from COPE, the Spanish radio.

Eva Fernandez: You recently met with Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela. What sensation did this meeting give you, and what is your opinion on the beginning of the conversations?

Pope Francis: The president of Venezuela asked for an interview, and appointment because he came from the Middle East, from Qatar, the Emirates, and he made a technical stop in Rome. He asked for an interview first, he came in 2013, then he asked for another appointment, but he got sick and couldn’t come, and then he asked for this meeting. If the president asks, I receive him. What’s more, he was in Rome for a stop. I listened to him for half an hour, an appointment, I listened, I asked him some questions and I heard his opinion. It’s always good to listen to all areas, no? I listened to his opinion. In reference to the second, dialogue. It’s the only path for all conflicts, eh…for all conflicts…there is no other. I with my heart put it on dialogue, and I believe that one must go forward on this path. I don’t know how it will end, I don’t know because it’s very complex…but the people who are in dialogue have important political stature…Zapatero, who was twice president of the Spanish government…and the other, Restrepo… (Editor’s note: he probably refers to Martin Erasto Torrijos Espino, another mediator for the Venezuelan crisis) asked the Holy See to be present in the dialogue, on both sides. And the Holy See assigned the nuncio to Argentina, Archbishop Celli, who I think is on the flight of the negotiations. But dialogue that favors negotiation is the only path to go out of conflicts. There is no other. If this had been done in the Middle East, how many lives would have been spared.

Mathilde Imberti: Holiness, we’re returning from Sweden, where secularization is very strong… it’s a phenomenon that touches Europe in general. In a country like France, they even estimate that in the coming years, a majority of citizens will be without religion. In your view, is secularization fate? Who are those responsible? Lay governments or the Church that might be too timid?

Pope Francis: Fate, no. I don’t believe in fate. Who is responsible? I wouldn’t know how to say, “You are responsible.” I don’t know. It is a process of… but before this, I’d like to say something: Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this a lot and clearly, and when the faith becomes tepid it’s because, as you say, the Church is weakened… the most secularized times… but let’s think to France: the times of the “worldliness” of the court, the times when the priests were the abbots of the court… it’s a clerical functionalism… the strength of evangelization was lacking, the strength of the Gospel. Whenever there is secularization, we can say that there is something of weakness in the evangelization, a big one. It really is.

But, there is another process, a cultural process, a process of – I think that I spoke of it once – of the second form of “inculturation,” when man receives the world from God and to make culture, to make it grow, dominate it… at a certain point man feels such an owner of that culture, let’s think to the myth of the Tower of Babel, such an owner of that culture that he begins to make himself the creator of another culture, but his own, and occupies the place of God the Creator, no? And in secularization, I believe that sooner or later one arrives to the sin against God the Creator. It is sufficient… it’s not a problem of secularism , because you need a healthy secularism , the autonomy of things, the healthy autonomy of things, the healthy autonomy of the sciences, of thought, of politics, a healthy secularism is needed.

Another thing is a laicism like what illuminism left us in inheritance, no? I think that there are these two things: a little the self-importance of the man creator of culture, but who goes beyond the limits and feels himself God is also a weakness in evangelization, it becomes tepid, and Christians are tepid, no? There, it’s saves us a bit to take up again the healthy autonomy of the development of culture and the sciences also with the dependence of being a creature, not God, no? And also taking up again the strength of evangelization. Today, I think that this secularization is very strong in certain cultures and also very strong in different forms of worldliness. Spiritual worldliness. When it enters into the Church, spiritual worldliness is the worst.

They are not my words, this that I say now, they are words of Cardinal de Lubac, one of the great theologians of the Council, eh! He says that when spiritual worldliness enters into the Church – this is a way – it is the worst that can happen to it, even worse than that which happened in the age of the corrupt Popes. And he says some forms of corruption of the Pope, I don’t remember well, but so many, eh… worldliness… and this is dangerous… and I’m risking that this sound like a sermon, but it is … a homily… but I’ll say this: Jesus when he prays for all of us in the Last Supper, he asks one thing for all of us to the Father, of not taking us from the world, but defending us from the world of worldliness. [Worldliness] is extremely dangerous. It is a secularization with a bit of make-up, a bit disguised, a bit ‘pret-a-porter’ in the life of the Church I don’t know if I’ve answered something of…

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. Now from the German television, ZDF, Jurgen Erbacher and we are at 35 minutes, one more…

Pope Francis: Yes, for them, for lunch…

Jurgen Erbacher, ZDF: Holiness, a few days ago you met with the Santa Martha Group that works in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking, topics that I think are very close to your heart… but not only as Pope, but already in Buenos Aires you took up these topics. Why? Is there a special or possibly also personal experience [behind it]? And then as a German at the beginning of the year of commemoration of the Reformation, I must also ask if you are coming to that country where the Reformation began 500 years ago, perhaps during this year…

Pope Francis: I’ll begin with the second: the schedule of trips for next year isn’t finished, yes, we’re only almost sure that I will go to India and Bangladesh, but that isn’t done, it’s a hypothesis. I continue to the first question. Yes, I, from my time in Buenos Aires, but since I was a priest, have always had this restlessness of the flesh of Christ, no? The fact that Christ continues to suffer and Christ is crucified continuously in his weakest brothers…it has always moved me! I worked as a priest, little things with the poor, but not exclusively, I also worked with university students and… then as bishop of Buenos Aires, we also (worked) together with non-Catholic and non-believing groups against slave labor, especially Latin American migrants who arrive in Argentina, they take their passport and make them do slave labor in the industries, but closed up (inside).

But once one burned down and they had the children on the rooftop, all dead, and also someone from there who wasn’t able to escape. Truly slaves, slaves…this moved me! The trafficking of persons…and I even worked with two congregations of sisters who were working with prostitutes, or, women enslaved in prostitution…I don’t like to say ‘prostitutes’…slaves of prostitution! Then once a year all these slaves of the system had a Mass in Constitution Square, which is one of the terminals, one of the railways, like Termini, I think of Termini…and they had a Mass there with everyone and to this Mass came all the organizations, the sisters who worked and even groups of non-believers but who worked together. And here you work the same. But here in Italy there are many volunteer groups who work against every form of slavery, whether it’s work, women…some months ago I visited one of these organizations and the people…Here in Italy they do well in volunteer work, I never thought that it happened like this. It’s a beautiful thing that Italy has, no? Volunteer work is due to pastors or parish priests…the oratory and volunteering are two things that were born from the apostolic zeal of Italian parish priest. But I don’t know if I have responded…Maybe I don’t know well how…

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. They say that if we want to eat we must go…this is what my boss says.

Pope Francis: I thank you again for the questions, thank you very much! Thanks a lot and pray for me! Have a good lunch!


I had a great weekend in Florence with my two cousins and will try to find some time to post a few photos but for now, just a report on Pope Francis’ press conference after his three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan.


As you know, Pope Francis returned to Rome last night from a three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan. On the return flight to Rome, as is by now traditional, especially when the flight is long and time allows, the Pope held a “presser, a press conference with the journalists aboard the flight. (photo – Pope Francis and Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office)


Ample news summaries have been written of some of the papal comments on the war against marriage, gender ideology, the U.S. election, peace in the world, possible consistories to create new cardinals, future papal trips and many more topics.

One talk highlighted by many in the media were the Holy Father’s off-the-cuff remarks on Saturday October 1 when, after celebrating Mass for the country’s small Catholic populace, he addressed hundreds of priests, seminarians, men and women Religious and pastoral workers. He did not use a prepared speech, rather, he listened to testimonies, took ample notes and then answered questions of made comments in an extemporaneous manner.

Francis spoke at length on marriage and commented on one woman’s remarks by noting that she “mentioned a great enemy of marriage today: gender theory. Today the whole world is at war trying to destroy marriage but it is a war fought with words, not weapons.”

Her remarks to Pope Francis focused on the growing pressure on people – couples and families – to accept homosexuality and gender ideology, and also on what she called the “marginalization” of the Christian vision of the family. Francis said there are “certain ideologies that destroy marriage, and thus we need to defend ourselves from ideological colonization.”

The Holy Father stressed that, “marriage is the most beautiful thing God created. …As man and woman have been created in God’s image, it is when the two become one that His image is reflected.” Francis said he understood the trials and difficulties that can come with marriage and noted that sometimes couples seek to resolve things on a path to divorce. But, he said, “when divorce happens, two people pay: “God pays, because God is the one Who made them one, and when they divorce, they soil what God has made.”

Children also pay the price of the separation, said Francis. “You don’t know, you have no idea how much children suffer when they see parents fight and separate.”  He also noted that, although “complex situations” can exist, “you must do everything to save a marriage.”

The Catholic News Agency crew had a very late night – or early morning, depending on how you look at it! – as they combined efforts to translate the entire 4,700-word in-flight presser. On its website, Vatican Radio used the CNA summary of the papal remarks on the plane to Rome from Azerbaijan.

Below are some of the fair and well-balanced headlines summarizing a few of the papal comments:.

Pope Francis: Love those who struggle, but don’t push gender theory on kids

Pope says walk with trans persons, but fight gender theory

Pope Francis green-lights opening of Fr. Jacques Hamel beatification process

Pope sees ‘global war’ against marriage, urges church help for couples

Following is the transcript of the papal Q and A. It is lengthy and, at times, seems repetitive and possibly even rambling but that is not the translation which is faithful to the Pope’s words.



Here is a note from Vatican Radio about Pope Francis’ inflight press conference last night on the return trip to Rome from Armenia. A complete transcript of the conference is due in coming days:

Pope Francis spoke on the Armenian genocide, the relation of the Church to homosexuals, and Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union, as well as a host of other topics in a wide-ranging press conference on his flight back to Rome following his Apostolic Voyage to Armenia. (photo:

Francis - press conference

Sunday’s in-flight press conference began with questions about the Apostolic Voyage to Armenia that Pope Francis had just concluded. Asked about his message for Armenia for the future, the Holy Father spoke about his hopes and prayers for justice and peace, and his encouragement that leaders are working to that end. In particular, he talked of the work of reconciliation with Turkey and with Azerbaijan. The Pope will be travelling to Azerbaijani later this year.

Pope Francis also spoke about his use of the word ‘genocide,’ acknowledging the legal import of the expression, but explaining that this was the term commonly in use in Argentina for the massacre of Armenians during the first World War.

During the press conference, Pope Francis also addressed a number of religious and ecumenical issues. Speaking about the controversy that arose from remarks by the Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who in a speech earlier this month had spoken of a shared “Petrine ministry,” Pope Francis insisted there was only one Pope, while praising the pope emeritus as a “great man of God.”

About the Pan-Orthodox Council, which concluded Sunday in Crete, the Pope said, “A step was made forward . . . I think the result was positive.” In response to a question about upcoming commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant “Reformation,” Pope Francis said, “I think perhaps this is also the right moment for us not only to remember the wounds on both sides, but also to recognize the gifts of the Reformation.” He also had words of praise for Martin Luther. The Pope praying and working together are important for fostering unity.

Pope Francis also answered a question about women deacons, and his decision to form a commission to study the issue. He said he was surprised and annoyed to hear that his remarks were interpreted to mean that the Church had opened the door to deaconesses. “This is not telling the truth of things,” he said. But, he continued, “women’s thought is important,” because they approach questions differently from men. “One cannot make a good decision without listening to women.

Reporters also questioned the Pope about recent events, including the recent “Brexit” vote in Britain. He said he had not had time to study the reasons for the British vote to leave the European Union, but noted that the vote showed “divisions,” which could also be seen in other countries. “Fraternity is better, and bridges are better than walls,” he said, but he acknowledged that there are “different ways of unity.” Creativity and fruitfulness are two key words for the European Union as it faces new challenges.

The secular press, meanwhile, latched onto remarks Pope Francis made concerning the Church’s relationship to homosexuals. Insisting once again that homosexuals must not be discriminated against, the Pope said that the Church should apologize to homosexuals and ask forgiveness for offending them – but he added, the Church should also ask forgiveness of any groups of persons who had been hurt by Christians who do not live up to the Gospel. There will always be good and bad Christians in the Church, he said, citing Christ’s parable of the wheat and the weeds. “All of us are saints, because all of us have the Holy Spirit. But we are all sinners, [and] I [am] the first.”

Finally, answering a question from Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis reflected on his visit to the Memorial at Tzitzernakaberd, and his upcoming journey to Poland, which will include a visit to Auschwitz. The Pope said that in such places, he likes to reflect silently, “alone,” praying that the Lord might grant him “the grace of crying.”

At the conclusion of the press conference, Pope Francis thanked the reporters for their hard work and goodness.


Pope Francis tweeted just three little words today. GOD BLESS AFRICA!

Can you believe it! It is already December and the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy starts in one week! I find the swiftness of the passing of time a bit scary! Wasn’t it just a month ago that I put the Christmas tree, ornaments and wrappings away?!

The Pope’s prayer intentions for December: UNIVERSAL: That all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving. EVANGELIZATION:  That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.

Following is the in-flight press conference held en route to Rome from the Central African Republic yesterday. It is lengthy and very interesting. Depending on your time zone as you read this, have an extra cup of coffee, an afternoon tea or a pre-dinner prosecco – and enjoy!

I’ve often referred to Pope Francis as the “why not?!” Pope – and the second story seems proof of that. He was probably asked to donate a pair of papal shoes…..well, you can read the rest……!


(VIS) – During his return flight to Rome from Africa, the Pope answered questions from the journalists accompanying him on the aircraft. The following are extensive extracts from questions posed and the Holy Father’s answers regarding his impressions of Africa, the Vatileaks case, his upcoming trips and COP 21, the climate conference in Paris.

The first question was from a Kenyan journalist who wanted to know the Pope’s views on the stories told by poor families in the Kangemi slum regarding exclusion from fundamental human rights due to avarice and corruption. (photo:


Pope Francis: “I understand that 80 per cent of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 17 per cent of the population; I do not know if this is true, but it is likely, as this is how things are. … It is an economic system in which money, the god of money, is at the centre. … And if things continue in this way, the world will not change. … In Kangemi, where I spoke clearly about rights, I felt great suffering. … Yesterday, for example, I visited a paediatric hospital, the only one in Bangui and in the country! And in intensive care they do not have the instruments to provide oxygen. There were many malnourished children, many. And the doctor told me, ‘Here the majority will die, as they have malaria and they are malnourished. … And those people who hold 80 per cent of the world’s wealth – what do they think of this?”

The second question regarded the most memorable moment of the Pope’s trip to Africa.

Pope Francis: “For me Africa was a surprise. I thought: God surprises us, but also Africa surprises! … They have a great sense of welcome. … Then, each country has its own identity. Kenya is a little more modern, more developed. Uganda has the identity of martyrs: the Ugandan people, both Catholic and Anglican, venerate the martyrs. … The courage of giving life for an ideal. And the Central African Republic: there is the desire for peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness”.

The third question touched on the issued of Vatileaks and the importance of the press in denouncing corruption wherever it encounters it.

Pope Francis: “A free press, both secular and confessional, but professional … is important to me, because the denouncement of injustice and corruption is good work. … And then those who are responsible must do something: form a judgement, constitute a tribunal. But the professional press must say everything, without falling prey to the three most common sins: disinformation, or telling half a story but omitting the other half; slander, or when the press is unprofessional and seeks to soil others with or without truth; and defamation, or rather, to damage a person’s reputation … and these are the three defects that undermine the professionalism of the press. We need professionalism”.

A French journalist asked whether, faced with the danger of fundamentalism, religious leaders should intervene in the political arena.

Pope Francis: “If this means participating in politics, no. Being a priest, a pastor, an imam, a rabbi – this is the vocation of a religious leader. But political influence is exercised indirectly by preaching values, true values, and one of the greatest values is fraternity between us. … Fundamentalism is a sickness that we find in all religions. Among Catholics there are many, not a few, many, who believe to hold the absolute truth and they go ahead by harming others with slander and defamation, and they do great harm. … And it must be combated. Religious fundamentalism is not truly religious. Why? Because God is missing. It is a form of idolatry, in the same way as worshipping money is idolatry. Being political in the sense of convincing these people who have this tendency is a policy that we religious leaders must adopt”.

An Italian journalist asked why two of the defendants in the Vatileaks case, Msgr. Vallejo Balda and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, had been appointed.

Pope Francis: “I think it was a mistake. Msgr. Vallejo Balda entered via the role he had has had until now. He was secretary of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs. I am not sure how he entered but if I am not mistaken, it was he who presented [Chaouqui] as a woman who knew the world of commercial relations. … They worked and once they had finished their task, the members of the Commission, COSEA, remained in various places in the Vatican. The same applied to Vallejo Balda. Ms. Chaouqui did not remain in the Vatican because she entered for the purposes of the Commission and then left. Some say that she was angry about this, but the judges will tell us the truth of the situation. … For me [what came out] was not a surprise, it did not cause me to lose any sleep, because they have shown the work that began with the Commission of Cardinals – the ‘C9’ – to seek out corruption and things that are not going well. And here I want to say something … on the word ‘corruption’. Thirteen days before the death of St. John Paul II … in the Via Crucis, the then-cardinal Ratzinger spoke about corruption in the Church. He was the first to denounce it. And when St. John Paul II died, in the ‘pro eligendo Pontefice’ Mass – he was the dean – he spoke about the same thing, and we elected him for this, his liberty to say these things. Since then there has been an air of corruption in the Vatican. … With respect to the judgement, I have given the concrete accusations to the judges, because that is what is important for the defence, the formulation of the accusations. I have not read them, the concrete, technical accusations. I would have liked this to finish before 8 December, for the Year of Mercy, but I do not think this will be possible, as I would like the lawyers who defend them to have to time to defend; they must have the freedom to prepare a full defence”.

A South African correspondent commented on the devastation caused by AIDS in Africa, where the epidemic continues, and where prevention is still the key. He asked the Pope whether or not it was time to change the Church’s position on the use of condoms.

Pope Francis: “The question seems to me to be too narrow, or rather a biased question. Yes, it is one of the methods; the morality of the Church finds itself before a perplexity: it is the fifth or the sixth commandment, defending life, or that the sexual relationship must be open to life? … This questions makes me think about what they did to Jesus once. ‘Tell me Master, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’. It is obligatory to heal! … But malnutrition, the exploitation of people, slave labour, the lack of drinking water: these are the problems. Let us not ask if we can use this sticking plaster or another for a small wound. The great wound is social injustice, the injustice of the environment, the injustice that I have mentioned such as exploitation and malnutrition. … I do not like to make reference to such specific cases when people die for lack of water or hunger, because of their habitat. … When everyone has been healed, when there are no longer these tragic diseases caused by mankind, either by social injustice or to earn more money. … Then we can ask the question, ‘is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’. Why do they continue the production and trafficking of weapons? Wars are the greatest cause of mortality. … I would say, do not think about whether or not it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. I would like to say to humanity: ensure justice, and when everyone is healed, when there is no more injustice in this world, we can talk about the Sabbath”.

An Italian journalist wanted to know if the Pope had considered going to Armenia to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the tragedy that afflicted the population, as he did last year in Turkey.

“Last year I promised the three Patriarchs that I would go: the promise is there. I do not know if it will be possible to do so, but the promise stands. … As for wars, wars are due to ambition. I am talking about wars that are not a legitimate defence against an unjust aggressor, but rather wars, wars are an ‘industry’! … War is a business, a weapons business. Terrorists, do they make their weapons? Perhaps the odd small one. Who gives them the weapons for warfare? There is a network of interests involved, and behind this there is money, or power: imperial power, or economic power. … But we have been at war for many years, some times more than others: the pieces of the war are smaller, then they become bigger. … I don’t know what the ‘Vatican position’ is, but what I think is that wars are a sin against humanity. They destroy humanity, they are the cause of exploitation, of human trafficking, of so many things. … Wars are not of God. God is the God of peace”.

Another issue was whether the Conference on Climate Change in Paris will be the beginning to a solution to the environmental problem.

Pope Francis: “I am not sure, but I can say that it is now or never. Every year the problems grow more serious. … We are at the brink of suicide, to put it bluntly. And I am sure that almost all those who are in Paris, at the COP 21, are aware of this and want to do something. … I am trustful. I trust these people, that they will do something; because, I would say, I am sure that they have the goodwill to do so, and I hope it is so. And I pray for this”.

An American journalist asked what he thought Islam and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed had to say to today’s world.

“It is possible to enter into dialogue; they have values. Many values. And these values are constructive. … Prayer, for example, and fasting. Religious values, and also other values. One cannot cancel out a religion because there are some groups, or many groups, at a certain historic moment, of fundamentalists. It is true that there have always been wars between religions throughout history, always. We too must ask forgiveness. … And the Thirty Years War, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. … We too must ask forgiveness, for fundamentalist extremism and for religious wars”.

The Pope’s visit to Mexico and other Latin American countries was the theme of the next question.

Pope Francis: “I will go to Mexico. First of all, I would like to visit Our Lady, the Mother of America, and so I will go to Mexico City. If it were not for the Virgin of Guadalupe, I would not go to Mexico City, as I would prefer to visit three or four cities that had not been visited by Popes. But I will go to visit Our Lady. Then I will go to Chiapas, in the South, on the border with Guatemala; then I will go to Morelia, and almost certainly, on the way back towards Rome, I will spend a day or less in Ciudad Juarez. With regard to visiting other Latin American countries, I have been invited to go to Aparecida in 2019, the other Patroness of America, for Portuguese speakers. … and from there perhaps I will be able to visit another country – but I do not know, there are no plans”.

The final question was from a Kenyan journalist, who asked: “What do you say to the world, which thinks that Africa is simply ravaged by wars and full of destruction?”

Pope Francis: “Africa is a victim. Africa has always been exploited by other powers. From Africa, slaves were taken to America, and sold. There are powers that seek only to take the great wealth of Africa. I don’t know, it is possibly the richest continent. … But they do not think of how to help countries grow, to promote work, so that everyone has work. … Exploitation! Africa is a martyr. She is a martyr to exploitation in history. Those who say that from Africa is the home of all calamities and all wars do not understand well, perhaps, the damage that humanity has done to certain forms of development. And it is for this reason that I love Africa, because Africa has been a victim of other powers”.

(A slightly shorter Vatican Radio summary here:


(Vatican Radio) Two black shoes belonging to Pope Francis have joined thousands of other pairs at an installation in Paris on Sunday, as part of a global campaign ahead of the UN climate summit in the French capital next week.(Photo:


The installation is one of more than 2,300 events taking place in countries around the world as part of the Global Climate March, on the eve of the Paris summit. It was arranged by the worldwide citizen’s network Avaaz, after police cancelled a planned demonstration citing security concerns.

In cities across the globe hundreds of thousands of people have already taken to the streets to urge their leaders to commit to 100% clean energy sources by the year 2050. They’re also calling on rich countries to commit to long term funding to help poorer nations deal with the impact of climate change and end their dependence on polluting fossil fuels.

Argentinean Oscar Soria is a senior media campaigner with Avaaz, described as the world’s most powerful online activist movement. Just ahead of this worldwide mobilization, he dropped into Vatican Radio to talk to Philippa Hitchen about the importance of this timely event and about the vital role the Pope has played in bringing it to the top of the political agenda…




As he does before he leaves on every trip and upon his return from a pilgrimage, Pope Francis yesterday visited Saint Mary Major to pray before the image so beloved by Romans, “Salus Populi romanus.”

-S.S. Francesco -  Omaggio Salus Populi Romani  13-07-2015  - (Copyright L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO - Servizio Fotografico -

-S.S. Francesco – Omaggio Salus Populi Romani 13-07-2015
– (Copyright L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO – Servizio Fotografico –


The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., made the following statement this morning regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran:

“The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See. It constitutes an important outcome of the negotiations carried out so far, although continued efforts and commitment on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit. It is hoped that those fruits will not be limited to the field of nuclear program, but may indeed extend further.”


(Vatican Radio) Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican on Tuesday after spending two-weeks at the papal residence in Castelgandolfo.

The Pope sent a letter of thanks to the mayor of the town, Milvia Monaschesi, along with a book as a gift. The Pope-emeritus thanked the mayor for her “warm welcome”, and mentioned the “natural beauty” and “hospitality of the people” of Castel Gandolfo, which is about 25 kilometres southeast of Rome.

“As a concrete sign of my gratitude, please accept this book on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of my election to the Chair of St. Peter,” the Pope-emeritus wrote.

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI arrived at the town on June 30, after a brief meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican’s “Mater Ecclesia” Residence.


Sean-Patrick Lovett of Vatican Radio noted in a summary of the Pope’s in-flight press conference that, “as often happens, the in-flight papal press conference en route from Asunciòn to Rome, was both a synthesis of the trip to Latin America as a whole – and an insight into the mind and heart of Pope Francis.”

He said, “looking back over the 8-day visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, journalists asked the Pope to summarize his ‘message’ to the Latin American Church. He did so by recalling the thing that struck him most in all three countries: the children. ‘I’ve never seen so many kids,’ he said. ‘This is a Church of life…I wanted to encourage this young Church…which I believe can teach us a lot.”

Lovett then summarized part of the press conference, and Vatican Radio later provided a full transcript of the papal interview. This is lenghy but covers many interesting topics in depth and it is, as Lovett said, “an insight into the mind and heart of Pope Francis.”

Question: Why does Paraguay not have a cardinal? What sin has Paraguay committed, so as not to have a cardinal?

Answer: Well, not having a cardinal isn’t a sin. The majority of countries in the world do not have a cardinal. The nationalities of the cardinals … are a minority compared to the whole. … At times, for the election of cardinals, an evaluation is made, the files are studied one by one, you see the person, the charism especially, of the cardinal who will have to advise and assist the Pope in the universal government of the Church. The cardinal, though he belongs to a particular Church, is incardinated in the Church of Rome, and needs to have a universal vision. This does not mean that there is not a bishop in Paraguay who has it, but you always have to elect up to a number, there is a limit of 120 cardinal electors. … I ask another question: Does Paraguay deserve a cardinal, if we look at the Church of Paraguay? I’d say that yes, they deserve two, but it has nothing to do with merits. It is a lively Church, a joyful Church, a fighting Church with a glorious history.

Question: We would like to know whether you consider (as) just the Bolivians wish to have sovereign access to the sea, to return to having a sovereign access to the Pacific, and by what criteria. And, Holy Father, should Chile and Bolivia ask for your mediation, would you accept?

Answer: The issue of mediation is very delicate, and it would be a last step. That is, Argentina experienced this with Chile, and it was truly to stop a war. It was a very extreme situation, and dealt with very well by those appointed by the Holy See, always backed by John Paul II who was very interested. … At the moment, I have to be very respectful about this because Bolivia has made an appeal to an international court. So at present if I make a comment, as a head of State, it could be interpreted as involvement or pressure on my part. It is necessary to be very disrespectful of the decision of the Bolivian people who made this appeal. … There is another thing I want to make very clear. In the Cathedral of Bolivia, I touched on this issue in a very delicate way, taking into account the situation of the appeal to the international court. I remember the context perfectly – brothers have to engage in dialogue, the Latin American peoples need to engage in dialogue. I stopped, I was silent a moment, and then said, “I’m thinking of the sea”. I continued, “dialogue and dialogue.” I think it was clear that my comment referred to this problem, with respect for the situation as it is at present. It is in an international tribunal, so it is not possible to speak about mediation or facilitation. We have to wait.

Follow-up question: Is the Bolivians’ wish just or not?

Answer: There is always a base of justice when there is a change in the territorial borders, particularly after a war. So this is under continuous revision. I would say that it is not unfair to present something like this, this wish. I remember that in the year 1961, during my first year of philosophy, we were given a documentary about Bolivia … called “The Ten Stars”. And it presented each one of the nine provinces and then, at the end, for the tenth, there was the sea, without a word. That stayed in my mind. It was the year 1961. In other words, it is clear that there is a desire.

Question: Ecuador was in a state of unrest before your visit, and after you left the country those who oppose the government returned to the streets. It seems that they would like to use your presence in Ecuador for political ends, especially because of the phrase you used, “the people of Ecuador have stood up with dignity”. I would like to ask you, if possible, what did you mean by this phrase?

Answer: Evidently there were some political problems and strikes. I don’t know the details of politics in Ecuador and it would be foolish of me to give an opinion. Afterwards I was told that there was a type of hiatus during my visit, which I am grateful for, as it is the gesture of a people on their feet, of respect for the visit of a Pope. … But if these problems resume, clearly, the problems and political debates continue. With regard to the phrase you mentioned: I refer to the greater awareness of their courage that the people of Ecuador have been gaining. There was a border war with Peru not long ago. There is a history of war. Then, there’s been a greater awareness of Ecuador’s ethnic diversity and dignity. Ecuador is not a throwaway country. Or rather, it refers to the people as a whole and to all of the dignity of the people who, after the border war, stood up with ever greater awareness of its dignity and the wealth it has in its diversity and variety. In other words, it cannot be attributed to one concrete political situation. That phrase – I was told, I did not see it myself – was manipulated to suggest that the government had put Ecuador on her feet, or that she had been raised to her feet by those opposing the government. One comment can be manipulated, and I believe that in this we must be very careful.

Question: In your address to popular movements in Bolivia you spoke about the new colonialism and the idolatry of money that subjugates the economy, and the imposition of austerity measures that continually “tighten the belt” of the poor. For some weeks now in Europe there is the situation in Greece, which risks leaving the Euro zone. What do you think about what is happening in Greece, and which also affects all of Europe?

Answer: I am near to this situation, as it is a phenomenon present throughout the world, all over the world. Also in the East, in the Philippines, in India, in Thailand. There are movements that are organised among themselves not as a form of protest but in order to keep going and to be able to live. And they are movements that have momentum, and these people – there are many of them – do not feel represented by union, as they say that the unions are now corporations and do not fight – I am simplifying somewhat – for the rights of the poor. And the Church cannot be indifferent to this. The Church has a social doctrine and is in dialogue with these this movement, and does so well. You have seen the enthusiasm of feeling that the Church – they say – is not distant from us, the Church has a doctrine that helps us to fight for this. It is a dialogue. The Church does not choose an anarchic path. No, we are not anarchists. These people work, they try to work hard even with waste, with what is left over; they are real workers.

Then, regarding Greece and the international system, I do not understand it well … but it would certainly be all too simple to say that the blame lies only on one side. If the Greek government has advanced this situation of international debt, it too bears responsibility. With the new Greek government, there have been steps in the right direction, towards revision. I hope, and it is the only thing I can say to you, as I do not know the situation well, that a way will be found to solve the Greek problem, and also a path of supervision so that other countries do not experience the same problem, and that this may help us to go ahead, as the path of loans and debts never ends. I was told, about a year or so ago, that there was a United Nations project … whereby a Country can declare itself bankrupt – which is not the same as being in default – but it is a project I heard about and I do not know how it ended or whether or not it was true. If a company can declare bankruptcy why can’t a country do it, so that we can then go to the aid of others?

Then, with regard to the new colonialisms, evidently these are a question of values. The colonialism of consumerism, for example. The habit of consumerism is the result of a process of colonisation, as it leads to a habit that is not one’s own and causes a personality imbalance. Consumerism also upsets the balance of the domestic economy and of social justice, as well as physical and mental health, for instance.

Question: Holy Father, what did you think when you received the hammer and sickle with Christ on it, offered by President Morales? And what became of the object?

Answer: I didn’t know about it, and I was not aware that Fr. Espinal was a sculptor and also a poet. I found out in these days. I saw it and it was a surprise to me. It can be qualified as belonging to the genre of protest art. For example, in Buenos Aires a few years ago there was an exhibition of protest art by a good, creative Argentine sculptor – he is dead now – and I remember a work which was a crucified Christ on a bomber that was falling down. It was a critique of Christianity allied with imperialism, in the form of the bomber. Firstly, then, I did not know about it and secondly, I would qualify it as protest art that can in some cases be offensive; in some cases. Thirdly, in this specific case: Fr. Espinal was killed in the year 1980. It was a time in which liberation theology had many different threads, one of which was the Marxist analysis of reality, and Fr. Espinal subscribed to this. … In the same year, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arrupe, sent a letter to the whole Society regarding the Marxist analysis of reality in theology, stopping this to some extent, saying no, this doesn’t work, they are different things, it is not right. And four years later, in 1984, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith published its first short volume, its first declaration on liberation theology, which it criticised. Then there was the second, that opens up more Christian perspectives.

… Let us consider the hermeneutics of that period. Espinal was an enthusiast of the Marxist analysis of reality, but also of theology. That work came from this. Espinal’s poetry also belongs to the protest genre: it was his life, his thought. He was a special man, with great human geniality, who fought in good faith. Through a hermeneutics of this type I understand the work. To me it was not offensive. But I had to apply this hermeneutics and I say this to you, so that there are not any mistaken opinions. I now carry the object with me, it is coming with me. You perhaps heard that President Morales wished to bestow two honours on me: one is the most important in Bolivia and the other is of the Order of Fr. Espinal, a new Order. I have never accepted honours, but he did this with such good will and with the wish to please. And I thought that this comes from the people of Bolivia – I prayed about this and thought about it – and if I take them to the Vatican they will end up in a museum where nobody will see them. So, I decided to leave them to Our Lady of Copacabana, the Mother of Bolivia, and these two honours will go to the Shrine of Copacabana, to Our Lady. However, I am taking the the sculpture of Christ with me.

Question: During the Mass in Guayaquil, you said that the Synod will have to develop true discernment to find concrete solutions to the difficulties faced by families. And then you asked the people to pray because even that which may seem impure to us, which may seem scandalous or frightening, can be transformed into a miracle by God. Can you clarify what “impure”, “scandalous” or “frightening” situations you were referring to?

Answer: Here again there is a need for a hermeneutics of the text. I was talking about the miracle of the wine during the wedding at Cana and I said that the jars of water were full, but they were intended for purification. Or rather, every person who entered the feast carried out a rite of cleansing, leaving behind their spiritual impurities. It is a purification rite performed before entering a house or a temple. A rite that we have in holy water, which is what remains to us of the Jewish ritual. I said that Jesus made good wine with the impure water, the worst water. In general, I thought about making this comment: the family is in crisis, we all know this. … I was referring to all of this, in general: that the Lord may purify us of these crises, of the many things that are described in the Instrumentum laboris. It is a general issue, not referring to any particular point.

Question: Seeing how well the mediation went between Cuba and the U.S., do you think it would it be possible to do something similar between other delicate situations in other countries on the Latin American continent? I’m thinking of Venezuela and Colombia.

Answer: The process between Cuba and the United States was not mediation. It did not have the character of mediation. There was a wish that came … And then, to tell you the truth, three months went by, and I only prayed about the matter … what could I do with these two who had been like this for more than 50 years. Then the Lord made me think of a cardinal. He went there and talked; then knew nothing more and months went by. One day the secretary of State, who is here, told me, “Tomorrow we will have the second meeting with the two teams.” … “Yes, yes, they are talking, the two groups are talking …”. It happened by itself. It was not a mediation. It was the goodwill of the two countries, and the merit is theirs, the merit is theirs for doing this. We did hardly anything, only small things. And in mid-December, it was announced. … Now, I am concerned that the peace process in Colombia must not come to a halt. I have to say this, and I hope that the process goes ahead. In this sense, we are always willing to help, in many ways. It would be a bad thing if it did not go ahead. In Venezuela, the Episcopal Conference is working to make peace there, too. But there too, there is no mediation.

Question: One thing we have heard very little of is a message for the middle class, that is, people who work, who pay their taxes, normal people. My questions is: why are there so few messages for the middle class in the Holy Father’s teaching?

Answer: Thank you, it is a good correction? You are right, it is an error on my part. The world is polarised. The middle class is becoming smaller. The polarisation between rich and poor is great, this is true, and perhaps this has led me not to take account of it. Some nations are doing very well, but in the world in general polarisation is very evident. And the number of poor is large. And why do I speak of the poor? Because they are at the heart of the Gospel. … Then with regard to the middle class, I have said a few words, but somewhat “in passing”. But the common people, the simple people, the worker, that is a great value. But I think you are telling me about something I need to do: I need to deepen the magisterium on this.

Question: Now that Cuba will have a greater role in the international community, do you think that Havana will have to improve its reputation with regard to human rights and religious freedom? And do you think that Cuba risks losing something in its new relationship with the most powerful country in the world?

Answer: Human rights are for all, and are not to be respected only in one or two countries. I would say that in many countries throughout the world human rights are not respected. … What will Cuba or the U.S. lose? Both will gain something and lose something, because this happens in negotiations. Both will gain, this is sure: peace, encounter, friendship, collaboration. These they will gain … but what will they lose, I cannot imagine. They may be concrete things. But in negotiations one always [both] wins and loses. But returning to human rights, and religious freedom: just think that in the world there are some countries, even in Europe, where you cannot make a religious sign, for different reasons. The same applies to other continents. Religious freedom is not respected in all the world: there are many places where it is not respected.

Question: Holy Father, in summary, what message did you want to give to the Latin American Church in these days? And what role can the Latin American Church have, also as a sign to the world?

Answer: The Latin American Church has a great asset: it is a young Church … with a certain freshness, also some informalities, it is not very formal. In addition it has a rich body of theological research. I wanted to encourage this young Church and I believe that this Church can offer us much. One thing that really struck me was that in all three countries, in the streets, there were many fathers and mothers with their children. … I have never seen so many children! It is a people – and also a Church – that has a lesson for us, for Europe, where the declining birthrate is worrying, and there are few policies for helping large families. France has a good policy for helping large families and it has achieved a birthrate of more than two per cent, but in others it remains at zero percent. … The greatest asset of this people and of this Church is that it is a living Church. I believe we can learn from this and correct it as otherwise, if we no longer have children … It is what touches me most about this tendency to cast aside: children are discarded, the elderly are discarded, and through the lack of work, the young too are discarded. These new nations of young people give us greater strength. For the Church, I would say that a young Church – with many problems, because it has problems – I think that this is the message I find: do not be afraid of this youth and this freshness of the Church. It can also be a somewhat undisciplined Church, but with time it will become disciplined, and it offers us much that is good.




Aboard the papal plane, Jan 19, 2015 / 03:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News)  –  Speaking to journalists aboard the Jan. 19 flight from Manila to Rome concluding his Asian pilgrimage, Pope Francis discussed what he learned from Filipinos; his upcoming trip to Philadelphia and other U.S. cities; how one can be a responsible parent without resorting to birth control; the colonization of gender ideology; and the possibility of a papal trip to Africa.

Below is a full transcript of the discussion between Pope Francis and journalists during Monday’s flight:

Pope Francis: First of all I greet you: good day, thank you for your work. It was challenging, and as we say in Spanish, “pasado per agua” (it rained on the parade). It is beautiful, and thank you very much for what you have done.

POPE FRANCIS - inflight interview

Kara David (GMA Network): Good day Holy Father. Sorry, I will speak in English. Thank you very much for visiting our country and for giving so much hope to the Filipinos. We would like you to come back to our country. My question is: the Filipinos have learned a lot from listening to your messages. Is there something the Holy Father has learned from the Filipinos, from your encounter with us?

Pope Francis: The gestures! The gestures moved me. They are not protocol gestures, they are good gestures, felt gestures, gestures of the heart. Some almost make one weep. There’s everything there: faith, love, the family, the illusions, the future. That gesture of the fathers who think of their children so that the Pope will bless them. Not the gesture of one unique father. There were many who thought of their children when we passed by on the road. A gesture which in other places one does not see, as if they say ‘this is my treasure, this is my future, this is my love, for this one it’s worth working, for this one it’s worth suffering’. A gesture that is original, but born from the heart.

A second gesture that struck me very much is an enthusiasm that is not feigned, a joy, a happiness, a capacity to celebrate.  Even under the rain, one of the masters of ceremonies told me that he was edified because those who were serving in Tacloban, under the rain, never lost the smile. It’s the joy,  not feigned joy.  It wasn’t a false smile. No, no!  It was a smile that just came out, and behind that smile there is a normal life, there are pains, problems.

Then there were the gestures of the mothers who brought their sick children. Indeed mothers in general bring them there. But usually mothers did not lift the children up so much, only up to here. The dads do, one sees them. Here dad! Then many disabled children, with disabilities that make some impression; they did not hide the children, they brought them to the Pope so that he would bless them: ‘This is my child, he is this way, but he is mine’.  All mothers know this, they do this. But it’s the way they did this that struck me. The gesture of fatherhood, of motherhood, of enthusiasm, of joy.

There’s a word that’s difficult for us to understand because it has been vulgarized too much, too badly used, too badly understood, but it’s a word that has substance: resignation. A people who knows how to suffer, and is capable of rising up. Yesterday, I was edified at the talk I had with the father of Kristel, the young woman volunteer who died in Tacloban.  He said she died in service, he was seeking words to confirm himself to this situation, to accept it. A people that knows how to suffer, that’s what I saw and how I interpreted the gestures.

Jean Louis de la Vessiere – France Press: Holy Father, you have now gone twice to Asia. The Catholics of Africa have yet to receive a visit from you.  You know that from South Africa to Nigeria to Uganda many faithful who suffer from poverty, war, Islamic fundamentalism, hope you will visit this year. So I would like to ask you, when and where are thinking of going?

Pope Francis: I will respond hypothetically. The plan is to go to the Central African Republic and Uganda, these two, this year. I think that this will be towards the end of the year, because of the weather, no? They have to calculate when there won’t be rains, when there won’t be bad weather. This trip is a bit overdue, because there was the Ebola problem. It is a big responsibility to hold big gatherings, because of the possible contagion, no?  But these countries there is no problem. These two are hypothetical, but it will be this year.

Fr. Lombardi: Now we give the floor to our friend Izzo Salvatore, from the Italian information agency AGI.

Izzo Salvatore: Holy Father, in Manila we were in a very beautiful hotel. Everyone was very nice and we ate very well, but as soon as you left this hotel you were, let’s call it morally accosted, at least, by the poverty. We saw children among the trash, treated possibly I would say as trash. Now, I have a son who is six years old and I was ashamed because they were in such poor conditions. I have a son Rocco who has understood very well what you are saying when you say to share with the poor. So on the way to school, he tries to distribute snacks to the beggars in the area. And, for me it’s much more difficult. Also for others, adult people it’s very difficult. Just one cardinal 40 years ago left everything to go among the lepers – that’s Leger (Archbishop Paul-Emile Leger of Montreal, who in 1968 and at the age of 64 resigned from his post to live with lepers, editor’s note) – so, I wanted to know why is it so difficult to follow that example also for the cardinals? I also wanted to ask you something else. It’s about Sri Lanka. There we saw all of the “favelas” on the way to the airport, they are shack supported against the tree. They practically live under the trees. Most are Tamils and they are discriminated against. After the massacre of Paris, right after, perhaps rashly, you said there is an isolated terrorism and a state-sponsored terrorism. What did you mean by “state-sponsored terrorism”? It came to my mind when I saw the discrimination and suffering of these people.

Pope Francis: Thanks. Thank you.

Salvatore: One more thing Holy Father, I wanted to tell you that my agency, AGI Italia which is turning 65 years old. So without taking anything away from ANSA, I wanted to let you know that we are working very hard in Asia, because with the tracks that Enrico Mattei left, AGI makes collaborative agreements with modest agencies in Palestine, in Pakistan, in Algeria, in a lot of countries. We also would like your encouragement. There are around 20 agencies that are associated with us in developing countries.

Pope Francis: When one of you asked me what message I was bringing to the Philippines, I said: the poor. Yes, it’s a message that Church today gives; also the message that you mention of Sri Lanka, of the Tamils and discrimination, no? The poor, the victims of this throwaway culture. This is true. Today, paper and what’s left over isn’t all that’s thrown away. We throw away people. And discrimination is a way of throwing away: these people are discarded. And there comes to mind a bit the image of the castes, no? This can’t go on. But today, throwing away seems normal. And you spoke of the luxurious hotel and then the shacks. In my diocese of Buenos Aires, there was the new area, which is called Puerto Madero, up to the train station, and then the start of the “Villas Miserias,” the poor. One after another. And in this part there are 36 luxurious restaurants. If you eat there, they take off your head. Right there is hunger. One next to the other. And we have the tendency to get used to this, no? To this, that… yes, yes, we’re here, and there, are those thrown away. This is poverty.

I think the Church must give examples – always more examples – of refusing every worldliness. To us consecrated, bishops, priests, sisters, laity who truly believe, the gravest sin and the gravest threat is worldliness. It’s really ugly to look on when you see a worldly consecrated, a man of the Church, a sister. It’s ugly. This is not the way of Jesus. It’s the path of an NGO that is called “church” but this isn’t the Church of Jesus, that NGO. Because the Church is not an NGO but another thing; when they become worldly, a part of the Church, these people, it becomes an NGO and it ceases to be the Church.

The Church is Jesus, died and risen for our salvation, and the testimony of the Christians that follow Christ. That scandal that you’ve said is true, yes. Scandal: we Christians often cause scandal. We Christians scandalize. Whether we are priests or laity, because the way of Jesus is difficult. It’s true that the Church needs to “be despoiled.” But you’ve made me think about this terrorism of states. This throwing away, even if it is like a terrorism. I hadn’t ever thought about it honestly but it makes me think. I don’t know what to say to you but truly those are not caresses, truly. It’s like saying “no, you no, you out.” Or, when it happened here in Rome that a homeless man had a stomach pain. Poor man. When you have stomach pain you go to the hospital into the emergency response unit and they give you an aspirin or something like that and then they give you an appointment for 15 days later, and after 15 days you come. After, he went to a priest and said, “But, no…” And the priest saw and was moved and said, ‘I’ll take you to the hospital but I want to do me a favor.  When I start explaining what you have, you act like you’re fainting.’ That’s how it happened. He was an artist. He did it well. There was a peritonitis. This man was discarded. He went out alone, he was discarded, and he was dying. That parish priest was smart, he helped us well. Stay away from worldliness, right? Is it a terrorism? Well, yes. We can think about this, yes, but I’ll think about it well. Thanks, and congratulations to the agency.

Jan Cristoph Kitzler: I would like to return for a minute to the encounter you had with families. You have spoken of ideological colonization. Would you explain a bit more the concept? You also mentioned Paul VI, speaking of the “particular causes” that are important to the pastoral care for families. Can you give an example of these particular cases and maybe say also if there is need to open the way, to have a corridor, for these particular cases?

Pope Francis: Ideological colonization. I’ll give just one example that I saw myself. Twenty years ago, in 1995, a minister of education asked for a large loan to build schools for the poor. They gave it to her on the condition that in the schools there would be a book for the children of a certain level, no? It was a schoolbook, a book prepared well, didactically, in which gender theory was taught. This woman needed the money but that was the condition. Clever woman, she said yes and did it again and again and it went ahead like this and that’s how it was achieved. This is ideological colonization.

They introduce to the people an idea that has nothing, nothing to do with the nation. Yes, with groups of people, but not with the nation. And they colonize the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure. During the synod, the African bishops complained about this. Which was the same story, certain loans in exchange for certain conditions — I say only these things that I have seen.

Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they take, they really take, they take the need of a people to seize an opportunity to enter and grow strong — with the children. But it is not new, this. The same was done by the dictatorships of the last century. They entered with their own doctrine — think of the Balilla (Mussolini’s fascist youth organization — editor’s note), think of the Hitler Youth. They colonized the people, but they wanted to do it. But how much suffering — peoples must not lose their freedom. Each people has its own culture, its own history. Every people has its own culture. But when conditions come imposed by imperial colonizers, they seek to make these peoples lose their own identity and make a uniformity. This is the globalization of the sphere — all the points are equidistant from the center. And the true globalization — I like to say this — is not the sphere. It is important to globalize, but not like the sphere; rather, like the polyhedron. Namely that each people, every part, conserves its own identity without being ideologically colonized. These are the ideological colonizations.

There is a book, excuse me but I’ll make a commercial, there is a book that maybe is a bit heavy at the beginning because it was written in 1903 in London. It is a book that at that time, the writer had seen this drama of ideological colonization and wrote in that book. It is called “The Lord of the Earth,” or “The Lord of the World.” One of those. The author is Benson, written in 1903. I advise you to read it. Reading it, you’ll understand well what I mean by ideological colonization.

This is the first response. The second: What I want to say about Paul VI is that it is true that openness to life is the condition of the sacrament of matrimony. A man cannot give the sacrament to the woman, and the woman give it to him, if they are not in agreement on this point to be open to life. To the point that it can be proven that this or the other did not get married with this intention of being open to life, the matrimony is null. It’s a cause of the annulment of the marriage, no? Openness to life, no. Paul VI studied this, with the commission, how to help the many cases, many problems. They are important problems, that are even about love in the family, right? The everyday problems — so many of them.

But there was something more. The refusal of Paul VI was not only to the personal problems, for which he will tell the confessors to be merciful and understand the situation and pardon. Being understanding and merciful, no? But he was watching the universal Neo-Malthusianism that was in progress. And, how do you call this Neo-Malthusianism? There is less than one percent of birth rate growth in Italy. The same in Spain. That Neo-Malthusianism that sought to control humanity on the part of the powers. This doesn’t mean that the Christian must make children “in series.” I met a woman some months ago in a parish who was pregnant with her eighth child, who had had seven C-sections. But does she want to leave the seven as orphans? This is to tempt God. I speak of responsible paternity. This is the way, a responsible paternity. But, what I wanted to say was that Paul VI was not more antiquated, closed minded. No, he was a prophet who with this said to watch out for the Neo-Malthusianism that is coming. This is what I wanted to say.

Fr. Lombardi: I now give the question to Valentina, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we are now over China — we seem to have now become accustomed to holding press conferences over China, as we did returning from Korea.

Valentina Alazraki: On the flight from Sri Lanka you used the image of the gesture that this poor man (Gasbarri) might have merited if he insulted your mother would have merited a punch. Your words were not well understood by everyone in the world and seemed to justify the use of violence in the face of provocation. Could you explain a little better what you meant to say?

Pope Francis: In theory we can say that a violent reaction in the face of an offense or a provocation, in theory yes, it is not a good thing, one shouldn’t do it. In theory we can say what the Gospel says, that we should turn the other cheek. In theory we can say that we have freedom of expression, and that’s important. But in theory we all agree. But we are human and there’s prudence, which is a virtue of human coexistence. I cannot constantly insult, provoke a person continuously, because I risk making him angry, and I risk receiving an unjust reaction, one that is not just. But that’s human. For this reason I say that freedom of expression must take into account the human reality and for this reason it must be prudent. It’s a way of saying that one must be educated, prudent. Prudence is the human virtue that regulates our relations. I can go up to here,  I can go up to there, and there, beyond that no. What I wanted to say is that in theory we all agree: there is freedom of expression, a violent aggression is not good, it’s always bad. We all agree, but in practice, let us stop a little because we are human and we risk provoking the other. For this reason freedom must be accompanied by prudence. That’s what I wanted to say.

Nicole Winfield, AP: For the English Group, I would like to ask you again about this year’s trip. You already told us that the trip to United States was previewed and mentioned three cities: New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Then, with the canonization of (Fr. Junipero) Serra, we ask if a stop to California is foreseeable, or at the Mexican border. Then, in South America, you told our colleague Elisabetta that three trips in three Latin American countries are previewed. Which are the countries? And do you think to beautify personally Archbishop Romero, who was recently considered a martyr (by the commission of theologians of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, editor’s note)?

Pope Francis: I start from the last one. There will be a war between Cardinal Amato and monsignor Paglia (laughs) over which of the two will do the beatification. No, beatifications are normally carried out by the Cardinal of the dicastery (for saints’ causes), or another (bishop).

Let’s go the first question of the United States. Yes, the three cities are Philadelphia, for the Meeting of Families; New York, I have the date already but I can’t remember, for the visit at the U.;N and Washington. It is these three.  I would like to go to California for the canonization of Junipero, but I think there is a problem of time. It requires two more days. I think that I will do that canonization at the shrine (of the Immaculate Conception) in Washington, it is is a national thing. In Washington, I’m not sure where, there is a statue of Junipero, at the capitol. To enter the USA from the border of Mexico would be a beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants. But you know that to go to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna (of Guadalupe) would be a drama. A war could break out (laughing). And also it would mean three more days, and this is not clear. There I think there will only be those three cities. Later there will be time to go to Mexico. Did I forget something? Latin America countries? We have foreseen for this year – everything is still in draft form — Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. These three. Next year, God willing, I would like to go, but nothing is planned yet. Chile, Argentina and Uruguay and Peru are missing there, but we don’t know where to put it.

Father Lombardi: Thank you. We already have quite a precise and wide program of the (Pope’s) travels. Everything is provisional (this is just a draft schedule) – nothing is decided yet.

Carla Lim: Thank you very much for inspiring our country; on behalf of the Filipino people, thank you so much. Please forgive me because I cannot speak Italian. You mentioned, in some of your speeches, about corruption, and corruption takes away the resources from the people. What can your holiness do to fight corruption, not just in the government, but maybe in the Church as well?

Pope Francis: She’s tough, this one, eh? (Inaudible). Corruption today in the world is the order of the day, and the corrupt attitude easily and immediately finds a nest in institutions, because an institution that has so many branches here and there, so many chiefs and vice-chiefs, like that, it’s very easy for it to fall or provide a nest for corruption and every institution can fall into this. Corruption is taking from the people. That corrupt person who does corrupt deals or governs corruptly or associates himself with others in order to do corrupt deals, robs the people. The victims are those — where is he, the one of the anniversary? (he refers to Salvatore Izzo)– they are those who you said were behind the luxury hotel, no? They are the victims of corruption. Corruption is not closed in on itself; it goes out and kills. Do you understand? Today corruption is a worldwide problem.

Once in 2001, more or less, I asked the chief of the cabinet of the president at that time, which was a government that we thought to be not so corrupt, and it was true, it was not so corrupt, the government: “Tell me, the aid that you send into the interior of the country, whether it be in cash or food or clothes, all these things, how much gets to the place.” Immediately this man, who is a true man, clean, said, “35 percent.” That’s what he told me. The year 2001 in my homeland.

And now, corruption in ecclesial institutions. When I speak of the Church I like to speak of the faithful, the baptized, the whole Church, no? In that case, it’s better to speak of sinners. We are all sinners, no? But when we speak of corruption, we speak either of corrupt persons or of institutions in the Church that fall into corruption. And there are cases, yes, there are. I remember once, in the year 1994, when I had been barely named bishop of the Flores quarter of Buenos Aires, two employees or functionaries of a ministry came to me to tell me, “you have so much need here with so many poor in the villas miserias.” “Oh yes,” I said, and I told them. “We can help you. We have, if you want, a subsidy of 400,000 pesos.” At that time, the exchange rate with the dollar was one to one. $400,000. “You can do that?” “Yes, yes.” I listened because, when the offer is so big, the offer challenges even a saint. But they went on: “To do this, we make the deposit and then you give us half for ourselves.” In that moment I thought about what I would do: either I insult them and give them a kick where the sun doesn’t shine, or I play the fool. I played the fool and said, in truth, we at the vicariate don’t have an account; you have to make the deposit at the archdiocese’s office with the receipt. And that was it. “Oh, we didn’t know.” And they left. But later I thought, if these two landed without even asking for a runway — it’s a bad thought — it’s because someone else said yes. But it’s a bad thought, no? Does corruption happen easily? Let’s remember this: sinners yes, corrupted no, corrupted never. We must ask pardon for those Catholics, those Christians who scandalize with their corruption. It’s a wound in the Church. But there are so many saints, so many saints. And sinner saints, but not corrupt. Let’s look at the other side, too: the Church is holy. There are some here and there. Thank you for having the courage to ask this question.

Anais Feuga (Radio France): We’ve flying over China. Coming back from Korea, you said you’re ready to go to China tomorrow. In the light of this declaration, can you explain why you didn’t receive the Dalai Lama when he was at Rome a little while ago, and where do relations with China stand?

Pope Francis: Thanks for asking me this question. It’s a habit in the protocol of the Secretariat of State not to receive heads of state and people at that level when they’re taking part in an international meeting here in Rome. For example, for FAO I didn’t receive anyone. That’s the reason he wasn’t received. I saw that some newspapers said I didn’t receive him out of fear of China. That’s not true. At that time, this protocol was the reason. He asked for an audience, and it was said … but a date, a certain point. He asked before, but not for this moment, we are in relation. The motive was not a refusal of a person, or fear of China. Yes, we are open, we want peace with everyone. How do the relations with China stand? The government of China is respectful, we’re respectful, let’s take things one step at a time. That’s how things are done in history, no? We don’t yet know, but they know I’m available either to receive someone, or to go to China. They know. There was another question or not? Thank you.

Marco Ansaldo (La Repubblica): Holy Father, you have done an amazing trip, very rich, full of things, in the Philippines. But I would like to take a step back, because terrorism strikes Christianity, Catholics in many part of the world. We have recently seen it in Niger, but there are many examples. In the last trip we did, coming back from Turkey, you launched an appeal to Islamic leaders, saying that a step, a very firm intervention from them was needed. Now, it does not seem to me that this has been considered and welcomed, despite your words. There are some moderate Islamic countries, I can easily provide the example of Turkey, that have at least an ambiguous attitude toward terrorism – and let’s mention the cases of ISIS and of Charlie Hebdo. I do not know if you had the occasion to reflect and think how to go beyond your invitation over this past one month and a half, since your appeal had not been welcomed and was important. You, or someone on your behalf, I see here Monsignor Becciu or Cardinal Parolin himself, because this problem will keep on questioning us. Thank you.

Pope Francis: I even repeated that appeal to the diplomatic corps on the very day I left for Sri Lanka. In my speech to the diplomatic corps, I said that I hope that — more or less, I don’t remember the exact words – religious, political, academic and intellectual leaders express themselves on the issue. Even the moderate Muslim people ask that of their leaders. Some have done something. I also think that we should give some time: it is not easy, no. I am hopeful, since there are many good people among them, many good leaders, I am sure we will achieve it. But I wanted to underscore that I repeated that on the day I departed from Rome.

Christoph Schmidt: Holy Father, first of all I would like to say: Thank you very much for all the impressive moments of this week. It is the first time I accompany you, and I would like to say thank you very much. My question: you have talked about the many children in the Philippines, about your joy because there are so many children, but according to some polls the majority of Filipinos think that the huge growth of Filipino population is one of the most important reasons for the enormous poverty in the country. A Filipino woman gives birth to an average of three children in her life, and the Catholic position concerning contraception seem to be one of the few question on which a big number of people in the Philippines do not agree with the Church. What do you think about that?

Pope Francis: I think the number of three children per family that you mentioned – it makes me suffer- I think it is the number experts say is important to keep the population going. Three per couple. When this decreases, the other extreme happens, like what is happening in Italy. I have heard, I do not know if it is true, that in 2024 there will be no money to pay pensioners because of the fall in population. Therefore, the key word, to give you an answer, and the one the Church uses all the time, and I do too, is responsible parenthood. How do we do this? With dialogue. Each person with his pastor seeks how to do carry out a responsible parenthood.

That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven who were born with caesareans. That is an irresponsibility. That woman might say ‘no, I trust in God.’ But, look, God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.

Another curious thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people, a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too, but for them a child is a treasure. Some would say ‘God knows how to help me’ and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity, but let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.

Elisabetta Pique, La Nacion: Representing the Spanish language group, I have two questions.  This was a moving voyage for everyone. We saw people crying the entire time in Tacloban, even we journalists cried.  Yesterday you said the world needs to cry. We would like to ask you, what was – and it was all very moving – what was for you the most moving moment? That is the first question. The second, yesterday you made history, you surpassed the record set by John Paul II, in the same place, there were 6 or 7 million people. How does it feel to have seen – Cardinal Tagle was telling us that during the Mass in front of the altar you asked him, but how many people are here? How does it feel to have surpassed this record, to have entered into history as the Pope with the Mass with the highest attendance in history?  Thank you.

Pope Francis: The most moving moment: for me, the Mass in Tacloban was very moving. Very moving.  To see all of God’s people standing still, praying, after this catastrophe, thinking of my sins and those people, it was moving, a very moving moment. On the moment of the Mass there, I felt as though I was annihilated, I almost couldn’t speak. I don’t know what happened to me, maybe it was the emotion, I don’t know. But I didn’t feel another thing, it is something.  And then, the moving moments: the gestures were moving. Every gesture.  When I passed and a father would do this (gestures) and I blessed him, he would say thank you. But for them, a blessing was enough. I thought — I who have so many expectations — I want this and I want that. That was good for me, no? Moving moments. After I found out that in Tacloban we landed with winds at 70 kilometres per hour, I took it seriously the warning that we needed to leave no later than one o’clock because there was more danger.

Regarding the great turnout, I felt annihilated.  These were God’s people, and God was present. And the joy of the presence of God which tells us, think on it well, that you are servants of these people, these people are the protagonists. Something like this. The other thing is the weeping. One of the things that is lost when there is too much wealth or when values are misunderstood or we have become accustomed to injustice, to this culture of waste, is the capacity to cry. This is a grace we must ask for. There is a beautiful prayer in the old missal (1962, editor’s note) for tears. It went more or less like this: ‘O Lord, you who have made it so that Moses with his cane made water flow from a stone, make it so from the rock that is my heart, that water of tears may flow.’ It’s a beautiful prayer. We Christians must ask for the grace to cry. Especially wealthy Christians. To cry about injustice and to cry about sins. Because crying opens you to understand new realities, or new dimensions to realities.

This is what the girl said, what I said to her. She was the only one to ask that question to which there is no answer: why do children suffer? The great Dostoyevsky asked himself this, and he could not answer. Why do children suffer?  She, with her weeping, a woman who was weeping. When I say it is important that women be held in higher consideration in the Church, it’s not just to give them a function as the secretary of a dicastery — though this would be fine.  No, it’s so that they may tell us tell us how they experience, and view reality. Because women view things from a different richness, a larger one. Another thing I would like to underscore is what I said to the last young man, who truly works well, he gives and gives and gives, he organizes to help the poor. But don’t forget that we too need to be beggars – from them.  Because the poor evangelize us. If we take the poor away from the Gospel, we cannot understand Jesus’ message. The poor evangelize us. I go to evangelize the poor, yes, but allow them to evangelize you. Because they have values that you do not.

I thank you very much for your work, I have esteem for it.  Thanks very much.  I know it is a sacrifice for you. Thanks very much. I would like make these thanks concrete towards our dean,  whose birthday it is today (Valentina Alazraki, editor’s note). We can’t say how old you are but you’ve worked here since you were a child, as a child, as a child. Best wishes.