Pope Francis: Good evening to all and thank you for the work because you went about from one place to the other; I was in a car but you…thank you very much.
? We are all so curious…What surprised you about the U.S. in your first visit there
What surprised me was the warmth, the warmth of the people, so lovable. It was a beautiful thing and also different: In Washington the welcome was warm but more formal; New York was a bit exuberant, Philadelphia, very expressive -three different kinds of welcome. I was very struck by this kindness and welcome but also by the religious ceremonies, by the piety, the religiosity of the people…you could see the people pray and this struck me a lot. Beautiful.
? Did the US present any unexpected challenge
No thank God no… everything good, all polite. No challenge, no insults and nothing bad. We must continue to work with these faithful people like we have always done so until now. Accompanying the people in their growth through good times and also through their difficulties, in their difficulties, when there is no work, ill health is the challenge of the Church…now I understand…the Church’s challenge is to stay close to the people, not being a detached Church from the people but close to them, close, close, and this is something that the Church in the US has understood, and understood well.
? Philadelphia as you know has had a very difficult time with sex abuse…Then did you feel the need to offer compassion to the bishops
In Washington I spoke to all the U.S. bishops …they were all there. I felt the need to express compassion because what happened is something really terrible. And many of them suffered because they didn’t know about this. And when the thing was discovered, they suffered so much, men of the Church, of prayer…true pastors. I used word from the bible from the apocalypse. You are coming from a large tribulation. What happened was a great tribulation.
But not only the actual suffering, but what I said today to the victims of abuse. I wouldn’t say it was an apostasy but almost a sacrilege. We know the abuses are everywhere; in families, in neighbourhoods, in schools, in gyms, but when a priest abuses it is very serious because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy, that girl grow toward the love of God, toward maturity and toward good, but instead of that they squashed them and this is nearly a sacrilege. He betrayed his vocation, the calling of the Lord.
For this reason the church is strong on this and one must not cover these things up. There are also those who covered these things up, even some bishops. It is a terrible thing and the words of comfort were not to say “No, no don’t worry it was nothing,” but “It’s a terrible thing I imagine that you cried a lot” That was the sense of what I meant.
? You have spoken a lot about forgiveness…There are priests who committed sexual abuses to minors and have not asked for forgiveness to them. Do you forgive them?
If a person has done wrong, is conscious of what he has done and does not say sorry, I ask God to take him into account. I forgive him, but he does not receive that forgiveness, he is closed to forgiveness. We must forgive, because we are all forgiven. It is another thing to receive that forgiveness. And there are people who finish their life hardened, badly, without receiving the tenderness of God.
? Of the victims or the relatives who don’t forgive, do you understand them
Yes, I do. I pray for them. And I don’t judge them. Once, in one of these meetings, I met several people and I met a woman told me “When my mother found out that I had been abused, she became blasphemous, she lost her faith and she died an atheist.” I understand that woman… What was groped, destroyed, was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter. I don’t judge someone who can’t forgive. I pray because God is a champion in finding solutions. I ask him to fix it.
? How do you feel when the trip is over and the plane takes off?
A bit a personal but I have to be sincere. When the plane leaves after a visit, I see the faces of so many people. I get the urge to pray for them and say to the Lord, ‘I came here to do something, to do good, perhaps I have done wrong, forgive me but protect all those people who saw me, who thought of what I said, who heard me, even those who have criticized me, all of them,’ that is what I feel. Excuse me, it’s a bit personal…you can’t say that in the newspapers.
? About the migrant crisis in Europe.
You used a word, crisis. It’s become a state of crisis after a long process. For years, this process has exploded because the wars which those people leave and flee are wars waged for years. Hunger, it’s hunger for years. ..they have economic interests behind them. And, I think that instead of exploiting a continent or a nation, make investments instead so these people might have work and this crisis would be avoided.
You know what happens to all walls, all of them. All walls fall. Today, tomorrow or in 100 years, they will fall. It’s not a solution. In this moment, Europe is in difficulty, it’s true. We have to be intelligent, and whoever comes…that migrant flow. It’s not easy to find solutions, but with dialogue between nations they should be found. Walls are never solutions. But bridges are, always, always.
? How do you respond to those who fear that your “Motu Proprio” on annulment reform, promotes ‘Catholic divorce.’
I’ll start with the last one. In the reform of the procedure and the method, I closed the door to the administrative path, which was the path through which divorce could have entered. You could say that those who think this is ‘Catholic divorce’ are wrong because this last document has closed the door to divorce by which it could have entered. It would have been easier with the administrative path. There will always be the judicial path.
? Has the “Motu Proprio”closed the debate before the synod.
This was called for by the majority of the synod fathers in the synod last year: streamline the process because there are cases that last 10-15 years, no? There’s one sentence, then another sentence, and after there’s an appeal, there’s the appeal then another appeal. It never ends.
The double sentence, when it was valid that there was an appeal, was introduced by Pope Lambertini, Benedict XIV, because in central Europe, I won’t say which country, there were some abuses, and to stop it he introduced this but it’s not something essential to the process. The procedure changes, jurisprudence changes, it gets better. At that time it was urgent to do this, then Pius X wanted to streamline and made some changes but he didn’t have time or the possibility to do it.
The synod fathers asked for it, the speeding up of the annulment processes. And I stop there. This document, this ‘Motu Proprio’ facilitates the processes and the timing, but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament. And this the Church cannot change. It’s doctrine. It’s an indissoluble sacrament. The legal trial is to prove that what seemed to be a sacrament wasn’t a sacrament, for lack of freedom for example, or for lack of maturity, or for mental illness, or, there are so many reasons that bring about (an annulment), after a study, an investigation. That there was no sacrament. For example, that the person wasn’t free…
Cases of nullity, you have, you can find (the reasons) on the Internet, there are many, eh? Then, the issue of the second weddings, of the divorcees who make a new union. You read the ‘Instrumentum Laboris.’ What is put in discussion seems a bit simplistic to me to say that the synod, that the solution for these people is that they can receive communion. That’s not the only solution (being asked).
What the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’ proposes is a lot and also the problem of the new unions of divorcees isn’t the only problem. Young people don’t want to get married. It’s a pastoral problem as well.
Another problem: the affective maturity for a marriage. Another problem: faith. ‘Do I believe that this is for ever? Yes, yes, yes, I believe.’ ‘But do you believe it?’ the preparation for a wedding: I think so often that to become a priest there’s a preparation for eight years, and then, its not definite, the Church can take the clerical state away from you. But, for something lifelong, they do four courses! Four times…Something isn’t right.
The Synod has to deal with preparation for marriage. It’s one of the most difficult things. There are many problems. But, I like that you asked the question about ‘Catholic divorce.’ That doesn’t exist. It wasn’t a marriage, and this is nullity, it didn’t exist. And if it did, it’s indissoluble.
? You visited the Little Sisters of the Poor. Do you also support individualswho say they cannot in good conscience, abide by some laws…
I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection. But, yes, I can say conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’
? Would that include government officials as well
It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.
? About the relationship of the Holy See with China.
China is a great nation that offers the world a great culture, so many good things. I said once when were flying over China that I would like so much to go to China. I love the Chinese people and I hope there is the possibility of having good relations. We’re in contact, we talk, we are moving forward but for me, to have as a friend a great country like China, which has so much culture and has so much opportunity to do good, would be a joy.
? You praised the Siters.
The sisters in the US have done marvels in the field of education, of health. The people of the US love the sisters. I don’t know how much they may love the priests, (laughs) but they love the sisters. They are great, great women. Then, one follows her congregation, their rules, there are differences, yet they are great.
For that reason I felt the obligation to say ‘thank you’ for what they have done. The sisters have schools in all neighbourhoods, rich and poor. They work with the poor and in the hospitals.
? You spoke to Congress, to the UN, drew multitudes. Do you feel more powerful.
I don’t know if I had success or not. But I am afraid of myself. Why? I always feel weak in the sense of not having power and also power is a fleeting thing, here today, gone tomorrow. It’s important if you can do good with power. And Jesus defined power, true power is to serve, to do service, to do the most humble services, and I must still make progress on this path of service because I feel that I don’t do everything I should do.
? You have become a star in the US. Is it good for the Church to have a star Pope.
Do you know what the title was of the Pope, ought to be? Servant of the servants of God. It’s a little different from the stars. Stars are beautiful to look at. I like to look at them in the summer when the sky is clear. But the Pope must be, the servant of the servants of God. Yes, in the media this is happening but there’s another truth. How many stars have we seen that go out and fall? It is a fleeting thing. On the other hand, being servant of the servants of God is something that doesn’t pass….I’ll pray for you, truly.