The following is the first part of the Holy Father’s press conference with journalists on his return flight from Manila on Monday. The translation was provided by Catholic News Agency.
Part II will be published on January 22nd
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Pope Francis: First of all I greet you: good day, thank you for your work. It was challenging, and as we say in Spanish, “pasado per agua” (it rained on the parade). It is beautiful, and thank you very much for what you have done.
Kara David (GMA Network): Good day Holy Father. Sorry, I will speak in English. Thank you very much for visiting our country and for giving so much hope to the Filipinos. We would like you to come back to our country. My question is: the Filipinos have learned a lot from listening to your messages. Is there something the Holy Father has learned from the Filipinos, from your encounter with us?
Pope Francis: The gestures! The gestures moved me. They are not protocol gestures, they are good gestures, felt gestures, gestures of the heart. Some almost make one weep. There’s everything there: faith, love, the family, the illusions, the future. That gesture of the fathers who think of their children so that the Pope will bless them. Not the gesture of one unique father. There were many who thought of their children when we passed by on the road. A gesture which in other places one does not see, as if they say ‘this is my treasure, this is my future, this is my love, for this one it’s worth working, for this one it’s worth suffering’. A gesture that is original, but born from the heart.
A second gesture that struck me very much is an enthusiasm that is not feigned, a joy, a happiness, a capacity to celebrate. Even under the rain, one of the masters of ceremonies told me that he was edified because those who were serving in Tacloban, under the rain, never lost the smile. It’s the joy, not feigned joy. It wasn’t a false smile. No, no! It was a smile that just came out, and behind that smile there is a normal life, there are pains, problems.
Then there were the gestures of the mothers who brought their sick children. Indeed mothers in general bring them there. But usually mothers did not lift the children up so much, only up to here. The dads do, one sees them. Here dad! Then many disabled children, with disabilities that make some impression; they did not hide the children, they brought them to the Pope so that he would bless them: ‘This is my child, he is this way, but he is mine’. All mothers know this, they do this. But it’s the way they did this that struck me. The gesture of fatherhood, of motherhood, of enthusiasm, of joy.
There’s a word that’s difficult for us to understand because it has been vulgarized too much, too badly used, too badly understood, but it’s a word that has substance: resignation. A people who knows how to suffer, and is capable of rising up.
Yesterday, I was edified at the talk I had with the father of Kristel, the young woman volunteer who died in Tacloban. He said she died in service, he was seeking words to confirm himself to this situation, to accept it. A people that knows how to suffer, that’s what I saw and how I interpreted the gestures.
Jean Louis de la Vessiere – France Press: Holy Father, you have now gone twice to Asia. The Catholics of Africa have yet to receive a visit from you. You know that from South Africa to Nigeria to Uganda many faithful who suffer from poverty, war, Islamic fundamentalism, hope you will visit this year. So I would like to ask you, when and where are thinking of going?
Pope Francis: I will respond hypothetically. The plan is to go to the Central African Republic and Uganda, these two, this year. I think that this will be towards the end of the year, because of the weather, no? They have to calculate when there won’t be rains, when there won’t be bad weather. This trip is a bit overdue, because there was the Ebola problem. It is a big responsibility to hold big gatherings, because of the possible contagion, no? But these countries there is no problem. These two are hypothetical, but it will be this year.
Fr. Lombardi: Now we give the floor to our friend Izzo Salvatore, from the Italian information agency AGI.
Izzo Salvatore: Holy Father, in Manila we were in a very beautiful hotel. Everyone was very nice and we ate very well, but as soon as you left this hotel you were, let’s call it morally accosted, at least, by the poverty. We saw children among the trash, treated possibly I would say as trash. Now, I have a son who is six years old and I was ashamed because they were in such poor conditions. I have a son Rocco who has understood very well what you are saying when you say to share with the poor. So on the way to school, he tries to distribute snacks to the beggars in the area. And, for me it’s much more difficult. Also for others adult people it’s very difficult. Just one cardinal 40 years ago left everything to go among the lepers – that’s Leger (Archbishop Paul-Emile Leger of Montreal, who in 1968 and at the age of 64 resigned from his post to live with lepers, editor’s note) – so, I wanted to know why is it so difficult to follow that example also for the cardinals? I also wanted to ask you something else. It’s about Sri Lanka. There we saw all of the “favelas” on the way to the airport, they are shack supported against the tree. They practically live under the trees. Most are Tamils and they are discriminated against. After the massacre of Paris, right after, perhaps rashly , you said there is an isolated terrorism and a state-sponsored terrorism. What did you mean by “state-sponsored terrorism”? It came to my mind when I saw the discrimination and suffering of these people.
Pope Francis: Thanks. Thank you.
Salvatore: One more thing Holy Father, I wanted to tell you that my agency, AGI Italia which is turning 65 years old. So without taking anything away from ANSA, I wanted to let you know that we are working very hard in Asia, because with the tracks that Enrico Mattei left, AGI makes collaborative agreements with modest agencies in Palestine, in Pakistan, in Algeria, in a lot of countries. We also would like your encouragement. There are around 20 agencies that are associated with us in developing countries.
Pope Francis: When one of you asked me what message I was bringing to the Philippines, I said: the poor. Yes, it’s a message that Church today gives; also the message that you mention of Sri Lanka, of the Tamils and discrimination, no? The poor, the victims of this throwaway culture. This is true. Today, paper and what’s left over isn’t all that’s thrown away. We throw away people. And discrimination is a way of throwing away: these people are discarded. And there comes to mind a bit the image of the castes, no? This can’t go on. But today, throwing away seems normal. And you spoke of the luxurious hotel and then the shacks . In my diocese of Buenos Aires, there was the new area, which is called Puerto Madero, up to the train station, and then the start of the “Villas Miserias,” the poor. One after another. And in this part there are 36 luxurious restaurants. If you eat there, they take off your head.
Right there is hunger. One next to the other. And we have the tendency to get used to this, no? To this, that… yes, yes, we’re here, and there, are those thrown away. This is poverty. I think the Church must give examples – always more examples – of refusing every worldliness. To we consecrated, bishops, priests, sisters, laity who truly believe, the gravest sin and the gravest threat is worldliness. It’s really ugly to look on when you see a worldly consecrated, a man of the Church, a sister. It’s ugly. This is not the way of Jesus. It’s the path of an NGO that is
called “church” but this isn’t the Church of Jesus, that NGO. Because the Church is not an NGO but another thing; when they become worldly, a part of the Church, these people, it becomes an NGO and it ceases to be the Church. The Church is Jesus, died and risen for our salvation, and the testimony of the Christians that follow Christ. That scandal that you’ve said is true, yes. Scandal: we Christians often cause scandal. We Christians scandalize. Whether we be priests or laity, because the way of Jesus is difficult. It’s true that the Church needs to “be despoiled.” But you’ve made me think about this terrorism of states. This throwing away, even if it is like a terrorism.
I hadn’t ever thought about it honestly but it makes me think. I don’t know what to say to you but truly those are not caresses, truly. It’s like saying “no, you no, You out.” Or, when it happened here in Rome that a homeless man had a stomach pain. Poor man. When you have stomach pain you go to the hospital into the emergency response unit and they give you an aspirin or something like that and then they give you an appointment for 15 days later, and after 15 days you come. After, he went to a priest and said, “But, no…” And the priest saw and was moved and said ‘I’ll take you to the hospital but I want to do me a favor. When I start explaining what you have, you act like you’re fainting.’ That’s how it happened. He was an artist. He did it well. There was a peritonitis. This man was discarded. He went out alone, he was discarded, and he was dying. That parish priest was smart, he helped us well. Stay away from worldliness, right? Is it a terrorism? Well, yes. We can think about this, yes, but I’ll think about it well. Thanks, and congratulations to the agency.[Translation provided by Catholic News Agency]