reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Monday, August 7, 2023
Pope Francis wide-ranging interview aboard Papal plane ride home from WYD
Pope Francis: 'I prayed for peace in Fatima without publicity'
Pope Francis speaks to journalists traveling with him on the return flight to Rome from his Apostolic Journey to Portugal for World Youth Day 2023, speaking about his health, his silent prayer for peace in Fatima, and his assertion that the Church is open to all, even those who cannot receive certain sacraments.
By Vatican News
In his customary press conference aboard the return flight to Rome from Lisbon, Pope Francis spoke to reporters about a range of issues.
The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, invited the reporters to put their questions to the Pope, but first gave the microphone to Pope Francis. The Pope offered the journalists a short message of thanks for their coverage of the just-concluded World Youth Day experience, and gave his “Happy Birthday” greetings to Rita Cruz, one of the journalists present on the flight.
Here follows a working English transcription and translation of the press conference
Q: Aura Maria Vistas Miguel - Rádio Renascença: Your Holiness, first of all thank you for your visit to Portugal. Everyone already considers it a success. Everyone is very happy, thank you for coming. I met a high-ranking police officer who told me that he had never seen such an obedient and peaceful crowd. It was beautiful. My question is about Fatima: We know that you went there and prayed in silence in the little chapel. But there was this great expectation, in the very place where Our Lady had made a request to pray for the end of the war (and we are at war at the moment, unfortunately) and the expectation was that the Holy Father would publicly pray for peace; the eyes of the whole world were fixed on you yesterday morning in Fatima. Why did you not do it?
I prayed, I prayed. I prayed to Our Lady, and I prayed for peace. I did not advertise this, but I prayed. And we must continually repeat this prayer for peace.
She [Our Lady] made this request during the First World War. And this time I appealed to Our Lady and I prayed. I did not advertise.
Q: João Francisco Gomes - Observador:
Thank you very much Holy Father, I will speak in Spanish, I think it is easier for me. And if you could also answer in Spanish, it would be easier for Portuguese readers to understand. I would like to ask a question about the abuse of minors in the Church in Portugal. In February this year, a report published on the reality of abuse in Portugal said almost 5,000 children have been victims in the last decades. My question is: are you informed about this report that was handed over to the bishops? What do you think should happen with the bishops who knew about the cases of abuse and did not communicate them to the authorities? Thank you very much.
As you all know, in a very private setting, I received a group of people who had been abused. As I always do in these cases, we talked about this plague, this terrible scandal. In the Church, we followed more or less the same behaviour that is currently followed in families and neighbourhoods: we cover it up... We think that 42% of abuse takes place in families or neighbourhoods. We still have to mature and help discover these things. Since the Boston scandal, the Church has become aware that one could not go down random paths, but that one had to take the bull by the horns.
Two and a half years ago there was a meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences, where official statistics on abuse were also provided. And it is serious, the situation is very serious. In the Church there is a phrase we are using all the time: ‘zero tolerance, zero tolerance’. And the pastors who, in some way, have not taken responsibility have to take responsibility for this irresponsibility... The world of abuse is a very harsh one, and I urge everyone to be very open about it. Regarding the question of how the process is going in the Portuguese Church: it is going well. It is going well and with serenity; seriousness is being sought in cases of abuse. The numbers sometimes end up being exaggerated, a bit for the comments we always like to make, but the reality is that it is going well and this gives me a certain tranquility.
I would like to address one point and I would like to ask you journalists to collaborate on this. Do you have a phone today? A phone. Well, on any of these phones, for a fee and with a password, you have access to child sexual abuse. This comes into our homes and child sexual abuse is filmed live. Where is it filmed? Who are the perpetrators? This is one of the most serious plagues, next to the whole world (...) but I want to emphasise this because sometimes you don't realise that things are so radical. When you use a child to make a spectacle of abuse, it draws attention. Abuse is like 'consuming' the victim, isn't it? Or worse, hurting them and leaving them alive.
Talking to people who have been abused is a very painful experience, which is also good for me, not because I like to hear it, but because it helps me to deal with this drama. That is, to your question I would say what I said: the process is going well, I am informed about how things are going. The news may have exaggerated the situation, but things are going well as far as that is concerned. But also, with that, I would say, in some way: Help out. Help so that all types of abuse can be resolved, sexual abuse, but it is not the only one.
There are also other types of abuse that cry out to heaven: the abuse of child labour, the abuse of child labour, and it is used; the abuse of women, no? Even today, in many countries, surgery is still done on little girls: their clitoris is removed, and that is today, and it is done with a razor, and goodbye... Cruelty... And the abuse of labour, that is within sexual abuse, which is serious, and all that: there is a culture of abuse that humanity must review and must undergo a conversion.
Q: Jean-Marie GUÉNOIS - Le Figaro Holy Father, how are you? How is your health, how is your convalescence? You have not read, or have read only small parts of five speeches. It's unprecedented in a journey: why? Have you had eye problems, tiredness? Are texts too long? How do you feel feel? And allow me a small question about France. You are coming to Marseille, but you have never visited France. The people don't understand, maybe it's too small or do you have something against France?
My health is fine. The stitches have been removed; I lead a normal life; I wear a band that I have to wear for two or three months until my muscles get stronger.
My sight. In that parish I cut off the speech because there was a light in front of me and I couldn't read, the light was in my eyes and that's why I cut it. Some, through Matteo, have asked why I shortened the homilies that you have. When I speak, I don't do academic homilies, but I try to make it as clear as possible. When I speak I always seek communication. You have noticed that even in the academic homily I make some jokes, some laughs to control communication. With the young people the long speeches had the essential of the message, the essential of the message, and I selected according to how I felt the communication.
You noticed that I asked a few questions and immediately the feedback showed me where it was going, whether it was wrong or not.
Young people don't have a long attention span. Think about it: if you make a clear speech with an idea, an image, an affection, they can follow you for eight minutes. Incidentally, in Evangeli Gaudium, my first Apostolic Exhortation, I wrote a long, long chapter on the homily. Here there is a parish priest (referring to Don Benito Giorgetta, parish priest of Termoli, ed:) he knows that homilies are sometimes a torture, torture, that they talk blah, blah, and people…
In some small towns, I don't know about Termoli, men go out for a cigarette and come back. The Church must convert to this aspect of the homily: short, clear, with a clear message, and affectionate. That's why I check how it goes with the young people and I make them speak. But I shortened it because… I need to leave the idea with young people.
Let's move on to France. I went to Strasbourg, I will go to Marseilles, but not to France. There is a problem that concerns me, which is the Mediterranean. That's why I'm going to France.
The exploitation of migrants is criminal. Not here in Europe, because it’s fine, we are more cultured, but in the concentration camps of North Africa… I recommend a book. There is a small booklet, a small one, written by a migrant who spent, I think, three years to come from Guinea to Spain because he was captured, tortured, enslaved. Migrants in those concentration camps in North (Africa): it's terrible. At this moment - last week - the "Mediterranea Saving Humans” association was doing a job to rescue the migrants who were in the desert between Tunisia and Libya, because they had left them there to die. That book is called "Hermanito" - in Italian it has the subtitle "Fratellino" - but it can be read in two hours, it's worth it. Read it and you will see the tragedy of the migrants before embarking.
The bishops of the Mediterranean will hold this meeting, even with some politicians, to reflect seriously on the tragedy of migrants. The Mediterranean is a cemetery, but it's not the biggest cemetery. The largest cemetery is North Africa. This is terrible, read it. I go to Marseille for this. Last week, President Macron told me that it is his intention to come to Marseilles and I will stay a day and a half: I arrive in the afternoon and staying the following day.
(Matteo Bruni repeats the question: You have nothing against France?)
No. No, on this it's a policy. I am visiting small European countries. The big countries, Spain, France, England, I'll leave them for later, at the end. But as an option I started with Albania and so I did with other small ones. It's nothing. France, two cities: Strasbourg and Marseille.
Q: Anita Hirschbeck - KNA Holy Father, in Lisbon you told us that in the Church there is room for everyone, everyone, everyone. The Church is open to everyone, but at the same time not everyone has the same rights, opportunities, in the sense that, for example, women, homosexuals cannot receive all the sacraments. Holy Father how do you explain this inconsistency between an open Church and a Church not equal for all? Thank you.
You ask me a question that concerns two different points of view: the Church is open for everyone, then there is legislation that regulates life inside the Church. He who is inside follows the legislation. What you say is a simplification: “They cannot participate in the sacraments.” This does not mean that the Church is closed. Everyone meets God on their own way inside the Church, and the Church is mother and guides everyone on their own path. That's why I don't like to say: everyone comes, but you, this one, but the other one... Everyone, everyone in prayer, in inner dialogue, in pastoral dialogue, looks for the way forward.
That's why I ask the question: Why not homosexuals? Everybody! And the Lord is clear: the sick, the healthy, old and young, ugly and beautiful… the good and the bad!
There is a kind of gaze that doesn't understand this insertion of the Church as mother and thinks of it as a kind of "corporation" that you have to do this, or do it in this way and not another way, in order to get in to.
The ministeriality of the Church is another thing. [It is] the manner of carrying forward the flock. And in ministeriality, one of the important things is patience: accompanying people step by step on their way to maturity. Each one of us has this experience: that Mother Church has accompanied us and accompanies us in our own path of maturation.
I don't like reduction. This is not ecclesial; it is gnostic. It is like a Gnostic heresy that is somewhat fashionable today. A certain Gnosticism that reduces ecclesial reality, and that doesn't help. The Church is “mother” receiving everyone, and everyone makes their own way within the Church, without publicity, and this is very important. Thank you for the courage of asking this question. Thank you.
Matteo Bruni: The Pope would like to share a thought about WYD.
I would like to say one thing about how I experienced WYD. This is the fourth one I've experienced. The first one was in Rio de Janeiro which was monumental, Brazilian-style, beautiful! The second was in Krakow, the third in Panama; this is the fourth. This is the most numerous one. The hard, concrete data said there were more than a million. More. In fact, at the Vigil at night, yesterday, it was estimated to be one million four hundred or one million six hundred thousand people. These are the government figures. The number is impressive. Well prepared, eh! Of the ones I have seen, this is the best prepared.
The young people are a surprise. Young people are young, they act youthful, life is like that. But they are seeking to look forward. And they are the future. The idea is to accompany them. The problem is knowing how to accompany them. And that they shouldn’t detach themselves from their roots. That’s why I insist so much on dialogue between old and young, between grandparents with grandchildren. This dialogue is important, more important than the parent-child dialogue. With grandparents, because it is precisely there that you find the roots. Then young people: they are religious, they are looking for a non-hostile, non-artificial, non-legalistic faith, an encounter with Jesus Christ. And this is not easy.
They say, “But young people don't always live life in accordance with morality....” Who among us has not made a moral mistake in our lives? Everyone has! With the commandments or with someone, each of us has our own downfalls in our own history. Life is like that. But the Lord is always waiting for us because He is merciful and [He is] Father, and mercy goes beyond everything.
For me the WYD was beautiful. Before I caught the plane, I was with the volunteers who were 25,000! [It was] a mystical experience, an engagement that was really beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. That's what I wanted to say about Youth Day.
Q: Justin McLellan - Catholic News Service (CNS) You spoke about World Youth Day. We have heard during these days testimonies of young people who have struggled with mental health, with depression. Have you ever struggled with this? And if someone decides to commit suicide, what would you say to the family members of this person who, given Catholic teachings on suicide, suffer in thinking this person has gone to hell?
Youth suicide is a major issue today, the numbers are major. The media does not often say so much or inform (about the issue). I have been - not (in the context of) confession, no - in dialogue with young people, taking up occasions for dialogue.
A good young man said to me: Can I ask you a question? What do you think about suicide? He did not speak our language, but I understood well and we started to talk about suicide. And finally he said to me: Thank you, because last year I was undecided whether to do it or not to do it.
So many young people are anxious and depressed but not only psychologically. Then in some countries that are very very demanding at the university, young people who do not succeed in getting a degree or finding a job, (and) commit suicide because they feel great shame. I'm not saying it's an everyday issue but it's a problem. A problem of our day. It's something that happens.
Matteo Bruni: Thank you, Your Holiness, for your answers.
Thank you for what you have done and remember (the book) "Hermanito" or "Little Brother," the book on the migrant. Thank you.
This is a working translation and transcription. Words and expressions in parenthesis are provided for clarity.