During an interview with Barcelona’s leading newspaper, Pope Francis has strongly defended the record of Pius XII and suggested that the role of Pope Emeritus is here to stay.
In this wide-ranging interview with La Vanguardia, the Pontiff has given his views on everything ranging from his predecessor’s decision to retire to the bulletproof Popemobile, from how he would like to be remembered, to sport.
Pope Francis stated he was concerned about “everything which has been thrown at poor Pius XII,” mentioning how the World War II-era Pontiff hid many Jews in the convents of Rome and other Italian cities, as well as in the summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
Pope Francis clarified, “I do not mean to say that Pius XII did not make mistakes – I make many mistakes myself – but his role must be read in the context of the time.”
The Holy Father added that he gets an “existential rash” when he see people speak against the Pope and the Church during World War II, but ignoring decisions made by the Allied Powers.
“Did you know that they knew perfectly well the rail network used by the Nazis to take the Jews to the concentration camps? They had the photographs,” he said. “But they did not bomb these rail lines. Why? It would be nice if we spoke a little bit about everything.”
In response to being asked about the Catalonian situation in Spain, Pope Francis said, “All division concerns me.”
The Pope distinguished between “independence for emancipation” and “independence for secession,” giving the former Yugoslavia as an example of the former “where there are peoples and cultures so diverse that they are completely unconnected.”
Regarding the situations in Catalonia, northern Italy, and Scotland, Pope Francis said, “they should be studied on a case-by-case basis.”
He added, “There will be some cases that are just and some that are unjust, but the secession of a nation that hasn’t been previously forced together is an issue that must be taken up with tweezers.”
Idol of money
Shifting to economic affairs, Pope Francis said it is “outrageous” that some countries have a youth unemployment rate of more than 50%, with tens of millions of young Europeans out of work.
He told the newspaper that, “We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer works, a system that to survive must make war, as the great empires have always done.”
The Pope went on to say, “But since we cannot wage World War III, we then make regional wars. And what does that mean? That we make and sell weapons. And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies — the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money — are obviously cleaned up.”
Speaking about his life as Pope, he said serving as a pastor is the most important dimension of his vocation.
In response to why he doesn’t opt for the bulletproof Popemobie, he compared it to a glass “sardine can” which serves as a wall between him and the people.
He added, “It’s true that anything could happen, but let’s face it, at my age I don’t have much to lose.”
Speaking on Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to retire, Pope Francis said it was a “great gesture,” which opened the door to the creation of the institution of the Popes-emeritus.
He said, “As we live longer, we get to an age at which we cannot carry on with things,” adding, “I will do the same as he did: ask the Lord to enlighten me when the moment comes and tell me what I have to do, and he will tell me for sure.”
Turning to sport, Pope Francis said he promised the Brazilians to stay neutral during the World Cup, so he refused to answer a question about who he was supporting during the tournament.
The newspaper interview concluded by asking the Pontiff how he would like to be remembered by history.
His response was, “I have not thought about this.” He added, “But I like it when you recall someone and say ‘he was a good guy, he did what he could, and he was not that bad.’ With that, I would be content.” (D.C.L.)
Full interview (in Spanish):