Italian Newspaper, La Stampa, Interviews Pope Francis

Pope Says Reform Begins With Spiritual and Pastoral Initiatives

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In an interview with Italian newspaper, La Stampa, Pope Francis opened up on several topics including the Christmas season, a possible visit to the Holy Land, the Council of Cardinals, and answering accusations from right-wing conservatives who have labelled him a “Marxist”.

La Stampa published the interview on Sunday which was conducted by Andrea Tornielli in early December. Regarding the Christmas season, the Holy Father began by emphasizing it as “a time of hope and tenderness.”

“When Christians forget about hope and tenderness they become a cold Church, that loses its sense of direction and is held back by ideologies and worldly attitudes, whereas God’s simplicity tells you: go forward, I am a Father who caresses you.”

Reflecting on his first Christmas as Pontiff, the Holy Father told Tornielli that during this time where the world is afflicted by war, the celebration of Jesus’ birth “makes me think of God’s patience.

“The Bible clearly shows that God’s main virtue is that He is love. He waits for us; he never tires of waiting for us,” he said. “He gives us the gift and then waits for us. This happens in the life of each and every one of us. There are those who ignore him. But God is patient and the peace and serenity of Christmas Eve is a reflection of God’s patience toward us.”

When asked on a possible trip the Holy Land, the Pope, while not giving any specific dates, said that he wished to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Pope Paul VI.

“I would […] like to go there, to meet my brother Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and commemorate this 50th anniversary with him, renewing that embrace which took place between Pope Montini and Athenagoras in Jerusalem, in 1964. We are preparing for this,” the Pope said.

Tornielli also asked the Holy Father on recent accusations by right-wing conservatives that equated the Pope’s views on poverty in his recent Apostolic Exhortation as Marxism.

Upon the release of “Evangelii Gaudium”, Rush Limbaugh, an ultra-conservative media pundit, said on his radio show that the the views on «unfettered capitalism» were “pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.” When asked how he felt about those remarks, the Holy Father replied: “The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

Pope Francis explained that what is written in Evangelii Gaudium can also be found in the Social Doctrine of the Church. He went on to say that he only made reference to “trickle-down theories” that have done nothing to benefit the poor.

“I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist,” the Pope said.

Tornielli also asked the Argentinian-born Pontiff on the work with the Council of Cardinals, a group of 8 cardinals from around the world who assist the pope in the governance of the Church and the reform of the Roman Curia.

While acknowledging that a lot of work still must be done, the Holy Father said that they are still gathering views from the various Vatican dicasteries. He also stated that the Council will present concrete proposals in the next meeting, which will take place in February.

«I am always present at the meetings, except for Wednesday mornings when I have the General Audience,” the Holy Father said. “But I don’t speak, I just listen and that does me good.

“A few months ago, an elderly cardinal said to me: ‘You have already started Curia reform with your daily masses in Casa Santa Marta.’ This made me think: reform always begins with spiritual and pastoral initiatives before structural changes.”

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On the NET:

For the full interview, go to:

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