Argentinian newspaper El País published today an interview with Pope Francis. Here are my favorite excerpts.
On the Church’s disengagement with people’s problems
- I am more afraid, rather than of those who are asleep, of those who are anesthetized… Everything is calm, everything is quiet, when everything goes right. Too much order. When you read the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul’s epistles, it was a mess, there were troubles, people moved. There was movement and contact with people. An anesthetized person is not in touch with people. He protects himself against reality. He is anesthetized… It is a risk that we all have. It is a danger, it is seriously tempting. Being anesthetized is easier.
- I am always struck by the fact that Jesus Christ, in his last supper, when he prays to his Father on behalf of his disciples, he does not ask “Look, keep from breaking the fifth commandment, keep them from killing, from breaking the seventh commandment, keep them from stealing”. No, he says: “Keep them from the evils of the world, keep them from the world”.
On the transition documents he received from Benedict XVI
- Because here, in the Curia, there are true saints. I like to say it. We talk too easily about the level of corruption in the Curia. And there are corrupt people. But there are also many saints. Men that have spent all their life serving people anonymously, behind a desk, or in conversation, or in a study, to get… Herein there are saints and sinners.
On what concerns him about the world
- We have a World War III in little bits. Lately there is talk of a possible nuclear war as if it were a card game: they are playing cards. That is my biggest concern. I am worried about the economic inequalities in the world: the fact that a small group of humans has over 80% of the world’s wealth, with all its implications for the liquid economy, which at its center has money as a god, instead of the human being. Hence the throwaway culture.
On Trump’s presidency
- I think that we must wait and see. I don’t like to get ahead of myself nor judge people prematurely… Being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise… We need specifics. And from the specific we can draw consequences.
On his role in the Church
- The history of the Church has not been driven by theologians, or priests, or nuns, or bishops… The true heroes of the Church are the saints. That is, those men and women that devoted their lives to make the Gospel a reality. Those are the ones that have saved us: the saints. We sometimes think that a saint is a nun that looks up to the heaven and rolls her eyes. The saints are the specific examples of the Gospel in daily life! And the theology that you learn from a saint’s life is immense.
On Catholics who think there’s more focus on those who left the Church than to those who remained and obey the Church’s commandments
- I know that those who feel comfortable within a Church structure that doesn’t ask too much of them or who have attitudes that protect them from too much contact are going to feel uneasy with any change, with any proposal coming from the Gospel.
- The eldest child syndrome is the syndrome of anyone who is too settled within the Church, the one who has everything clear, knows what must be done and doesn’t want anyone to listen to strange sermons. That is the explanation for our martyrs: they gave their lives for preaching something that was upsetting.
- They have the right to think that the path is dangerous, that the outcome may be bad, they have the right. But provided they talk, that they don’t hide behind others. Nobody has the right to do that. Hiding behind others is inhumane, it is a crime. Everyone has the right to debate, and I wish we all would debate more, because it creates a smoother connection between us. Debating unites us. A debate in good faith, not with slander nor things like that.
On the refugee crisis
- I was passing through, greeting people, and a man had [a life jacket] in his hand and started to cry, on my shoulder, and he went on and on: “I couldn’t, I didn’t get to her, I couldn’t”. And when he calmed a little he told me: “She wasn’t over four years old, the kid. And she went down. I am giving this to you”. This a symbol of the tragedy that we are living.
- So the problem is: welcome them, yes, for a couple of months, give them accommodations. But the integration process must start at some point. When there is not integration, they get “ghettoized”, and I am not blaming anyone, but it is a fact that there are ghettos. It may be that they didn’t realize at that time. But the young guys who committed the atrocity in Zaventem [airport] were Belgian, they were born in Belgium. However, they lived in an immigrant neighborhood, a closed neighborhood. So the second phase is the key: integration.
- The model for all the world is Sweden… You get to Sweden and they give you a healthcare program, and documents, and a residence permit… And then you have a home, and the following week you have a school to learn the language, and a little bit of work, and you are on your way.
On the Vatican’s diplomatic role
- I ask the Lord that he give me the grace of not taking any measure for the sake of image. Honesty, service, those are the criteria. I don’t think that getting a bit of makeup is a good idea.
- Talk. That is the advice I give to every country. Talk, please. A fraternal conversation, if you feel up to it, or at least in a civilized way. Don’t throw insults at each other. Don’t condemn before talking.
On populism, xenophobia and Trumpism
- After [Paul von] Hindenburg, after the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says: “I can, I can”. And all Germans vote for Hitler. Hitler didn’t steal the power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people.
- In times of crisis, we lack judgment, and that is a constant reference for me. Let’s look for a savior who gives us back our identity and lets defend
ourselves with walls, barbed-wire, whatever, from other peoples that may rob us of our identity. And that is a very serious thing. That is why I always try to say: talk among yourselves, talk to one another.
- Each country has the right to control its borders, who comes and who goes, and those countries at risk —from terrorism or such things— have even more the right to control them more, but no country has the right to deprive its citizens of the possibility to talk with their neighbors.
On violence against women and women’s role in the Church
- In Italy, for instance, I have visited organizations that rescue female prostitutes who are being taken advantage of by Europeans. [The abusers] tell her: you have to earn such and such today, and if you don’t bring it in, we will beat you… In the house that I visited, there was a woman that had had an ear cut off… When they don’t earn enough, they torture them. And they are trapped because they are frightened, the abusers tell them that they are going to kill their parents.
- One very good thing this association does is that they go down the streets, approach the women and, instead of asking how much do you charge, how much do you cost, they ask: How much do you suffer? And they take them to a safe community so that they may recover.
- My concern is that women give us their thinking, because the Church is female, is Jesus Christ’s wife, and that is the theological foundation of women. When they ask me, I say yes, but women could have more. But what was more important on Pentecost, the Virgin or the apostles? The Virgin.