from Catholic News Agency.
Please read below the full text of the Pope’s inflight interview:
Fr. Federico Lombardi: The Holy Father has said that he can give us an hour of his time and no more. So, know that this is the limit. We’ll move forward to that limit and then at a certain point, we’ll finish. Now, for the first question, let’s give the floor to Anibal Velazquez from Paraguay, unless you want to say something to us first.
Pope Francis: Good evening to everyone and thanks for the work you’ve done. It was tiring for you. Thanks!
Anibal Velazquez: Hello, Holiness. Anibal Velazquez of Paraguay. We thank you for elevating the shrine of our Lady of Caacupe to a basilica, but the people of Paraguay ask: Why don’t we have a cardinal? What is the sin of Paraguay that we don’t have a cardinal? Is it far off for us to have a cardinal?
Pope Francis: Well, not having a cardinal isn’t a sin. Most countries in the world don’t have a cardinal – the majority. The nationality of the cardinals, I don’t remember them, how many there are, but they are a minority compared to the whole.
It’s true, Paraguay has never had a cardinal up until now, but I wouldn’t be able to give you a reason. Sometimes an evaluation is made, the files are studied one by one, you see the person, the charisma, especially, of the cardinal that 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 to the Church of Rome, and needs to have a universal vision. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bishop in Paraguay who has it. But you always have to elect up to a number, you can’t have more than a limit of 120 cardinal electors, so it will be for that.
Bolivia has had two. Uruguay has had two. Antonio Maria Barbieri (editor’s note: he served as Archbishop of Montevideo 1940-1976 and was created cardinal in 1958) and the current one (editor’s note: Fernando Sturla). And other Latin American countries… some Central American countries haven’t had one either. I don’t remember well, but it’s no sin, and it depends on the circumstances and the people, the charisma to be incardinated. This doesn’t represent an insult, or that the Paraguayan bishops have no value. There are some that are great. The two [inaudible] made history in Paraguay. Why weren’t they made cardinals? Because there wasn’t an opportunity. It’s not a promotion, certainly. 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. It doesn’t have anything to do with its merits. It’s a lively Church, a joyful Church, a fighting Church with a glorious history.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Thanks a million. And now we give the floor, a single question they tell me, to our two colleagues from Bolivia who are Priscilla and Cecilia, who are here.
Priscilla Quiroga Sarmiento (Cadena “A” Red Nacional): Holiness, please, we would like to know your criteria on if you consider the yearning of the Bolivians just to have sovereign access to the sea, to return to having a sovereign access to the Pacific.
Cecilia Dorado Nava, (El Deber): And, Holiness, in the case that Chile and Bolivia asked for your mediation, would you accept?
Pope Francis: Answering the question, the issue of mediation is a very delicate one. And, it would be a last step. It’s to say that Argentina lived that with Chile, and it was truly to stop a war, a very extreme situation, and (it was) dealt with very well by those appointed by the Holy See, behind whom was always John Paul II, being interested, and with the good will of the two countries which said “let’s see if this works out.”
It’s curious, there was, at least in Argentina, a group that never wanted this mediation, and when the president (Raul) Alfonsin called for a plebiscite to see if the proposal for a mediation would be accepted, obviously the majority of the country said “yes,” but there was a group that resisted, that always resisted.
In the case of mediation, hardly ever is a whole country in agreement. But it’s the final resort, there are other diplomatic tools that can help in this case, facilitators, et cetera.
At this point, I have to be very respectful about this because Bolivia has made an appeal to an international court. So right now if I make a comment, as a head of state, it could be interpreted as me trying to mingle in the sovereignty of another state and as disrespectful of the decision of the Bolivian people who made this appeal. Isn’t that right?
I also know that there have been previous instances of wanting to dialogue. I don’t remember well. I was told once something like that: once they were very close to a solution. It was in the times of president Lagos, Chilean president Lagos, but I say it without having exact details. It was a comment made to me by Cardinal Errazuriz, but I don’t want to say something foolish about this.
But there’s something I want to make very clear: I, in the Cathedral of Bolivia, touched on this issue in a very delicate way, taking into consideration the situation of the appeal to the international court. I remember the context perfectly – brothers have to dialogue, the Latin American peoples to have dialogue. In order to create the Great Homeland, dialogue is necessary. I stopped, made a silence, and said, “I’m thinking of the sea,” and then I continued, “dialogue and dialogue.” I think it was clear that my intervention was referring to this problem, though respecting the situation as it’s presented now.
It’s in an international tribunal, one can’t speak of mediation or facilitation. We have to wait for that.
[Inaudible follow-up question from Bolivian journalists]
Pope Francis: There’s always a base of justice when there’s a change in the territorial borders, particularly after a war. So, there’s a continuous revision of this. I’d say that it’s not unfair to present something like this, this desire. I remember that in the year 1960, no, 1961, during my first year of philosophy, we were passed along a documentary about Bolivia, from a Father who had come from Bolivia. I believe it was called ‘The Twelve Stars’. How many provinces has Bolivia?
Dorado Nava: Nine departments.
Pope Francis: So it was called ‘The Ten Stars’. And it presented each one of the nine departments, and at the end, the tenth department, and you saw the sea without any word. That remained in my mind, so it’s visible that there’s a desire. After a war of this kind, losses come up and I believe it’s important: first dialogue, the healthy negotiation. But at this point dialogue is stopped because of this appeal to The Hague.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: A thousand thanks, Holiness. Now, we give the floor to Freddy Paredes of Ecuador.
Freddy Paredes (Caceres, Teleamazonas): Holiness, good evening. Many thanks. Ecuador was convulsed before your visit, and after you left the country those who oppose the government went back to the streets. It would seem that they would like to use your presence in Ecuador politically, especially because of the phrase you used, “the people of Ecuador has stood up with dignity.” I would like to ask you, if it’s possible, what do you mean by this? Do you sympathize in President Correa’s political project? Do you believe that the general recommendations you’ve made during your visit to Ecuador, that look to improve development, dialogue, the construction of a democracy in the hopes of leaving behind the throw away culture, as you call it, is already practiced in Ecuador?
Pope Francis: Evidently, I know there were some political problems and strikes. I know that. I don’t know the complications of politics of Ecuador. It would be obnoxious of me to give an opinion. Afterward, they told me that there was a type of parenthesis during my visit, for which I’m thankful, because it’s the gesture of a people on their feet, a certain respect for the visit of a Pope. I’m thankful for and value this. But if things resume, obviously, the problems of political debates … and concerning the phrase you talk about: I refer to the greater consciousness the people of Ecuador has been gaining, it’s courage… There was a border war with Peru not long ago, so there’s a history of war. Then, there’s been a greater awareness of Ecuador’s variety of ethnic diversity, and this gives dignity. Ecuador isn’t a country of throwing away, so it refers to the people as a whole and to all of the dignity of that people who after the border war stood up and once again took more consciousness of its dignity and the wealth it has in its diversity and variety, so it cannot be attributed to one concrete political situation, from one sign or another because that same phrase, someone told me, I didn’t see it, was used to explain both situations.
That Ecuador stood up or that those contrary to the government … One sentence can be manipulated, and I believe that in this we must be very careful. And I thank you for your question because it’s a way to be careful. You’re giving an example of being careful.
And if you allow me, and no one asked me this, but I give you five extra minutes more as a concession, if we need them. In your job, the hermeneutics of a text is very important. A text can’t be interpreted only in one sentence. The hermeneutic has to be applied to the entire context. There are phrases that are exactly the keys to the hermeneutic, and others that aren’t, that are spoken “by the way” or “plasticas.” So, in all of the context, looking at the situation. So looking at the history, so being the history from that moment or if we’re looking at the past we need to interpret an event with the hermeneutic of that time. I don’t know, for instance the crusades – let’s interpret the crusades with a hermeneutic of how they thought in that time, no? It’s key to interpret a speech, any text, with a comprehensive hermeneutic, not isolated. Forgive me, I don’t want to play the “plum teacher” (editor’s note: ‘maestro ciruela;’ Argentine idiom that refers to the teacher who is constantly giving lecturing rants), but I say this to help you.
Now, shall we move on to Guarani?
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Now we give the floor to Stefania Falasca of Avvenire for the Italian group and we await the response in Guarani. In the meantime, Anna Matranga, is getting prepared for the English group.
Stefania Falasca, (Avvenire): So, we thought this: you, in the speech you gave in Bolivia to the popular movements, you spoke of the new colonialism and of the idolatry of money that the economy subdues and of the imposition of methods of austerity that always adjust the “pocket,” the “belt” of the poor. Now this week in Europe, we have this case of Greece and the destiny of Greece, which risks leaving the European currency. What do you think about what is happening in Greece and how it concerns all of Europe?
Pope Francis: First of all, why this intervention of mine at the conference of the popular movements? It was the second one. The first was held in the Vatican, in the old synod hall. There were more or less 120 people. It is something that (the Pontifical Council of) Justice and Peace organizes, but I am close to this because it is a phenomenon in the whole world, in the whole world, also in the East, in the Philippines, in India, in Thailand. These are movements that organize among themselves, not just to protest but to move forward, to be able to live, and they are movements that have strength. These people, and there are many, many of them, don’t feel represented by the unions because they say that unions now are a corporation and they do not struggle – I am simplifying a bit – but the idea of many people is that they don’t fight for the rights of poorest. The Church cannot be indifferent. The Church has a social doctrine, and dialogues with these movements, and dialogues well. You saw it. You saw the enthusiasm of feeling that the Church is not far from us, the Church has a doctrine that helps us in the struggle with this. It is a dialogue. It is not that the Church has an option for the anarchic way. No, they not anarchists. They work. They try do many jobs, even connected with waste, the things that are left behind. They are real workers. That is the first thing, the importance of this.
Then, the other. Tell me.
(Inaudible, clarifying question)
Pope Francis: On Greece and the international system, I have a great allergy to economic things, because my father was an accountant and when he did not manage to finish his work at the factory, he brought the work home on Saturday and Sunday, with those books in those day where the titles were written in gothic. When I saw my father I had a great allergy and I didn’t understand it very well. Certainly, it would be all too simple to say that the fault is only on one side. If the Greek government has brought forward this situation of international debt, also they have a responsibility. With the new Greek government we see a revision and it’s a bit right … I hope that they find a way to resolve the Greek problem and also a way to have oversight so that the same problem will not fall on other countries. And this will help us move forward because that road of loans and debts, in the end, it never ends. They told me something about a year and a half ago but it is something that I heard, I don’t know if it’s true, that there was a project at the U.N. – if any of you know anything about it, it would be good if you could explain it – there was a project whereby a country could declare itself bankrupt, which is not the same as default. It is a project, they told me, that was in the United Nations. I don’t know how it ended it up or whether it was true or not … I am just using it to illustrate something that I heard. But, if a company can declare bankruptcy why can’t a country do it and we go to the aid of others? And, this is one of the foundations of the project, but I can’t say anything more about this.
And then the new colonizations. Evidently, all of them are about values. It’s the colonization of consumerism. The habit of consumerism was a product of colonization. It’s the habit, no? It brings about a habit that is not yours and it even causes disequilibrium in the personality; consumerism causes disequilibrium the internal economy and social justice and even physical and mental health, just to give an example.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Now, Anna Matranga, if you can take a seat here.
Anna Matranga, (CBS News): Your Holiness, one of the strongest messages of this trip was that the global economic system often imposes a profit mentality at any cost, to the detriment of the poor. This is perceived by Americans as a direct criticism of their system and their way of life. How do you respond to this perception, and what is your evaluation of the impact of the United States in the world?
Pope Francis: What I said, that phrase, it’s not new. I said in Evangelii Gaudium. This economy kills. I remember that phrase well. It had a context. And I said it in Laudato Si’. It’s not a new thing, this is known. I cannot say … I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States. I heard about it, but I haven’t read about it, I haven’t had the time to study this well, because every criticism must be received, studied, and then dialogue must be ensue. You ask me what I think. If I have not had a dialogue with those who criticize, I don’t have the right to state an opinion, isolated from dialogue, no? This is what comes to mind.
Matranga: But now you are going to the U.S.
Pope Francis: Yes, I will go.
Matranga: Now you will go the United States. You must have an idea how it will be, you must have some thoughts about the nation.
Pope Francis: No, I have to begin to study now. Until now I studied these three beautiful countries [Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay]. Such richness, such beauty…Now I must begin to study Cuba, I will go for two and a half days. And then the United States. The three cities, the east. I cannot go to the west because … Washington, New York, Philadelphia, no? Yes, I must begin studying these criticisms, no? And then dialogue a bit with this.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Now we give the floor to Aura Miguel from the Portuguese, whom you know well.
Aura Vistas Miguel, (Radio Renascenca): Well, there’s no group. It’s just me from Portugal. (laughing) Holiness, what did you think when you saw the hammer and sickle with Christ on it? And where did this object end up? What did you think when you saw the hammer and sickle with the Christ on it, given to you by Evo Morales? And where did this object end up?
Pope Francis: Ah, yes, truly. I heard ‘mantello’ (editor’s note: mantle, cloak: ‘mantello’ is similar to ‘martello,’ the Italian for hammer, that’s why the Pope needed the question repeated), and I didn’t understand. It’s curious, I didn’t know this, nor did I know that Fr. Espinal was a sculptor and also a poet. I learned this in these days. I saw it and for me it was a surprise. Secondly, you can qualify it in the genre of “protest art” – for example in Buenos Aires, some years ago, there was an exhibit of a good sculptor, creative, Argentine, who is now dead. It was protest art, and I recall one, it was a crucified Christ on a bomber that was falling down, no? It’s Christianity, but a criticism that, let’s say, Christianity allied with imperialism, which is the bomber. The genre that first I didn’t know, and secondly, I would qualify it as protest art, which in some cases can be offensive, in some cases. Thirdly, in this concrete case, Fr Espinal was killed in 1980. It was a time when liberation theology had many different branches. One of the branches was with Marxist analysis of reality. Fr Espinal belonged to this, this. Yes, I knew because I was in those years rector of the theology faculty and we talked a lot about it, about the different branches and who were the representatives, no? In the same year, the general of the Society (of Jesus), Fr. Arrupe, wrote a letter to the whole Society on the Marxist analysis of reality in theology. Stopping on this point saying, “it’s no good, these are different things, it’s not right, it’s not correct.” And, four years later in 1984, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the first small volume, the first declaration on liberation theology that criticizes this. Then comes the second, which opens to a more Christian perspective. I’m simplifying, no? Let’s do the hermeneutic of that time: Espinal was an enthusiast of this Marxist analysis of the reality, but also of theology using Marxism. From this, he came up with this work. Also the poetry of Espinal was of this kind of protest. But, it was his life, it was his thought. He was a special man, with so much human geniality, who fought in good faith, no? Making a hermeneutic like this, I understand this work. For me it wasn’t an offense, but I had to do this hermeneutic, and I say it to you so that there aren’t any wrong opinions.
Vistas: Did you leave it there?
Pope Francis: No, it’s traveling with me. Maybe you heard that President Morales wished to give me two honors, the most important of Bolivia (editor’s note: the Condor of Andes) and the other of the Order of Fr. Espinal, a new order (editor’s note: the Senate of Bolivia approved it June 30). If I … first, I’ve never accepted honors. I don’t do it. But, he did it with so much good will and with so much pleasure to please me. And, I thought that this comes from the people of Bolivia. So I prayed about it, what I should do. (I thought,) If I bring it to the Vatican it’ll go to the museum and end up there and no one … I thought about leaving it with Our Lady of Copacabana, the Mother of Bolivia, which will go to the sanctuary. The two honors will be in the Shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana, the Madonna, while the Christ is coming with me. Thanks.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Now we give the floor to Anais Feuga from the French group.
Anais Feuga, (Radio France): Good evening. During the Mass in Guayaquil, you said that the synod needed to help a true discernment to mature to find concrete solutions to the difficulties of the family, and then you’ve asked the people to pray so that what seems to be impure, scandalous, or scary, that God may transform it into a miracle. Can you explain to us what impure, scary or scandalous situations you were referring?
Pope Francis: Here, too, I will do some ‘hermeneutics’ of the text. I was speaking of the miracle of the fine wine. I said the jugs, the jugs of water were full, but they were for the purification. Every person who entered for the celebration performed his purification and left his “spiritual dirt”. It was a rite of purification before entering into a house or the temple, no? Now we have this in the holy water – that is what has remained of the Jewish rite.
I said that precisely Jesus makes the best wine from dirty water – the worst water. In general, I thought of making this comment.
But, the family is in crisis, you know. We all know it. It’s enough to read the “Instrumentum Laboris” (editor’s note: the “working document” for October’s Synod) – which you know well because it was presented to you – and there – I was referring to all of that, in general. That the Lord would purify us from the crises of so many things that are described in that book of the “Instrumentum Laboris.” But it was in general – I wasn’t thinking of any point in particular. That he would make us better, families that are more mature, better. The family is in crisis, may the Lord purify us, and let’s move forward. But the specifics of this crisis are all in the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod that is finished and you have it.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Now we pass the floor to Javier Martinez Brocal from the Spanish group, from Rome Reports.
Javier Martinez Brocal, (Rome Reports): Holiness, thank you so much for this dialogue which helps us so much personally, and also our work. I pose this question in the name of all of the Spanish language journalists: 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 Colombia and Venezuela. Also, out of curiosity, I have a father who is a few years younger than you and has half your energy. We’ve seen it on this trip and in these two-and-a-half years. What is your secret?
Pope Francis: ‘What is your drug?’ is what he wants to ask. That’s the question!
The process between Cuba and the United States was not a mediation. No, no, no, it did not have the character of a mediation. There was a desire that had arrived, then on the other side also a desire. And then – and in this I’m telling the truth – there passed – this was in January of last year – three months went by, and I only prayed over this. I didn’t decide to do anything, what could I do with these two who have been going on like this for more than 50 years. Then the Lord made me think of a cardinal, and he went there and talked. Then I didn’t know anything; 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.” How’s that? “Yes, yes, they are talking, between the two groups they are all talking, they are making …” It went 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 December, mid-December, it was announced. This is the story, truly, there is no more to it.
Right now, I am concerned that the peace process in Colombia not halt. I must say so, and I hope that this process goes ahead. In this sense, we are always disposed to help, we have so many ways to help. It would be an ugly thing if it couldn’t go ahead. In Venezuela, the bishops’ conference is working to make a little bit of peace there, too. But there is no mediation, what you asked about. In the case of the United States, it was the Lord, and then two things maybe by chance, and then it went on. In Colombia, I have hoped and prayed, and we must pray, that this process does not stop. It is a process that has gone on for more than 50 years, too. How many dead? I’ve heard millions. And then, about Venezuela, I don’t know anything.
(Inaudible follow up)
Pope Francis: The drug! Well, mate helps me but I didn’t try the coca (tea). This is clear, eh!
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Good, now Ludwig Ring-Eifel, so we also have a representative of the German group. And then, if we still have time, there would be Vania di Luca.
Ludwig Ring-Eifel, (CIC): Holy Father, on this trip, we’ve heard so many strong messages for the poor, also many strong, at times severe, messages for the rich and powerful, but something we’ve heard very little was a message for the middle class – that is, people who work, people who pay their taxes, “normal people.” My question is why in the magisterium of the Holy Father are there so few messages on the middle class. If there were such a message, what would it be?
Pope Francis: Thank you so much. It’s a good correction, thanks. You are right. It’s an error of mine not to think about this. I will make a comment, but not to justify myself. You’re right. I have to think a bit.
The world is polarized. The middle class becomes smaller. The polarization between the rich and the poor is big. This is true. And, perhaps this has brought me not to take account of this, no? Some nations are doing very well, but in the world in general the polarization is seen. And the number of poor is large. And why do I speak of the poor? Because they’re at the heart of the Gospel. And I always speak from the Gospel on poverty, no? It’s not that it’s sociological. Then on the middle class, there are some words that I’ve said, but a little in passing. But the common people, the simple people, the worker, that is a great value, no? But, I think you’re telling me about something I need to do. I need to do delve further into this magisterium.
Fr Federico Lombardi: Good. OK, now the floor goes to Vania de Luca for the Italian group.
Vania de Luca, (RAI – News 24): In these days you’ve insisted on the necessity of methods of social integration against the throwaway culture. You’ve also supported projects that go in this direction of living well, also if you’ve said you’ve still got to think of the visit to the United States. Will you touch on these things when you go to the United Nations, to the White House? Were you also thinking of that trip when you mentioned those issues?
Pope Francis: No. No, I was just thinking concretely of this trip and of the world in general – that is true.
The debt of countries at this moment is terrible; every country has debts. There are one or two countries that have purchased the debt of big countries. It’s a global problem. But I didn’t think specifically of the trip to the United States in this.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Now, we’ve still got Courtney Walsh from the English group. I think it may be the last, the last question. (Inaudible) So, no, two more. Courtney and then after, if we can do another, Benedicte.
Courtney Walsh, (Fox News): OK, Holiness, we’ve spoken a bit about Cuba that before you go to the United States and the role the Vatican has had in bringing the two ex-friends back together. Now that Cuba will have a role in the international community, in your opinion should Havana improve its record on human rights, as well as religious freedom? And, do you think Cuba risks losing something in this new relationship with the most powerful country in the world? Thanks a lot.
Pope Francis: Human rights are for everyone. And human rights are not respected not only in one or two countries. I would say that in many countries of the world human rights are not respected. Many countries in the world .. and what will Cuba lose or the U.S. lose? Both will gain something and lose something, because this happens in negotiations. Both will gain, this is sure: peace, meetings, 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 of the world. There are some countries and also some European countries where you cannot make a sign of religion, for different reasons, and on other continents the same. Yes. Religious liberty is not present in all the world, there are many place that do not have it.
Fr Federico Lombardi: Now, we pass the floor to Benedicte Lutaud for the French group.
Benedicte Lutaud, (I.Media): Holiness, you present yourself as the new world leader of alternative politics. I would like to know: why do you support popular movements so strongly, and not so much the business world? And do you think the world will follow you in your outstretched hand to popular movements, which are very secular?
Pope Francis: The world of popular movements is a reality. Popular movements are a very big reality, all over the world. What did I do? What I gave them is the social doctrine of the Church, just as I do with the business world. There is a social doctrine of the Church. If you look back at what I told the popular movements, which is a fairly large speech, it comes from the Church’s social doctrine, applied to their situation. But it’s the social doctrine of the Church. Everything I said is the social doctrine of the Church. And, when I need to speak to the world of business, I say the same, that is the social doctrine of the Church, what does it say to the world of business. In Laudato Si’ there is a passage on the common good and also on the social debt of private property, all of this that goes in that sense. But it’s applying the Church’s social doctrine.
Lutaud: Do you think the Church will follow you, in your closeness towards popular movements?
Pope Francis: It is I who follow the Church! Because I simply preach the Church’s social doctrine to these movements. It’s not an outstretched hand to an enemy. It’s not political, no, it’s a catechetical fact. I want it to be clear.
Fr Federico Lombardi: Yet another question, from Cristina Cabrejas from the Spanish group.
Cristina Cabrejas, (EFE): Holy Father, the Spanish-speaking journalists want to ask if you are not somewhat scared that you or your speeches might be exploited by governments, by power (lobby) groups, by movements. Thanks.
Pope Francis: I repeat a bit what I said at the beginning. Every word, every sentence can be exploited. What the journalist from Ecuador asked me, that very sentence, some said it was for the government, others said it was against the government. That is why I allowed myself to speak of the hermeneutics of the whole (speech). They can always be exploited. At times some news takes a phrase, out of context. I am not afraid. Simply I say look at the context. And if I make a mistake, with a bit of shame I ask forgiveness, and move forward.
Cabrejas: Can I ask another quick question? What do you think of people taking selfies at Mass, which young people and children want to take with you?
Pope Francis: What do I think of it? I feel like a grandfather! It’s another culture. Today as I was taking leave (from Asuncion), a policeman in his 40s asked me for a selfie! I told him, listen, you’re a teenager! It’s another culture – I respect it.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Now, let’s do a final question and we’ll let a person who knows the Pope knows well do it, Andrea Tornielli from the Italian group.
Andrea Tornielli, (Vatican Insider): I wanted to ask you, Holy Father, in synthesis what was the message you wished to give to the Latin American Church during these days and what role can the Latin American Church have also as a sign to the world?
Pope Francis: The Latin American Church has a great wealth. It’s a young Church. And this is important. It’s a young Church with a certain freshness. Also, with some informalities, not so formal, no? It also has a rich theology of research. I’ve wished to give encouragement to this young Church and I believe that this Church can give us much. I’ll say something that really struck me. In all three countries, all three, along the streets there were moms and dads with their children, showing their children. I’ve never seen so many kids! So many kids. It’s a people, and also the Church is like this, no? It’s is a lesson for us, isn’t it? For Europe, where the decrease in birthrate is a bit scary, no? And also the policies for helping big families are few. I think of France, which has a good policy for helping big families. It has arrived to a higher than two percent birthrate, but others are at zero percent or less. (Inaudible) In Albania, for example, I believe the level of age is at 45 percent. (In) Paraguay 72 or 75 percent of the population is younger than 40 years old. The wealth of this Church, this nation, but also this living Church. This is a Church of life, no? And, this is important. We also need to learn from this and correct it because on the contrary if children don’t come… For me, it’s the same, waste. Children are thrown away. Elderly are discarded. We all know that the elderly… With the lack of work, we discard young people, no? And these new nations of young people give us more strength in this, no? And for the Church I’d say a young Church with so many problems. It has problems and this is the message I find. Don’t be afraid. This youth has this freshness of the Church. It can also be an undisciplined Church, but with time it will become disciplined. But it will give us so much good. I don’t know if this is what you wanted to ask me. Thanks.
Fr. Federico Lombardi: Thanks a lot, Holiness. So, we’ll close the series of questions. As every once in a while when we’re here together, we inform you about the birthdays of our colleagues, between today and tomorrow or yesterday and today we have two. One is Cristiana Caricato of TV2000 and the other is Antoine Marie Izoarde. What’s that? Pablo too, the day before yesterday. Great.
(Fr. Lombardi begins singing Happy Birthday)
Thanks so much for this answers and questions and for all the work you do. I wish you a good trip. See you tomorrow.