Full text of Pope Francis' In-Flight Press Conference (Part III)

«We Christians must ask for the grace to cry»

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The following is the third and final 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.

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Carla Lim: Thank you very much for inspiring our country; on behalf of the Filipino people, thank you so much. Please forgive me because I cannot speak Italian. You mentioned, in some of your speeches, about corruption, and corruption takes away the resources from the people. What can your Holiness do to fight corruption, not just in the government, but maybe in the Church as well?

Pope Francis: She’s tough, this one, eh? (Inaudible). Corruption today in the world is the order of the day, and the corrupt attitude easily and immediately finds a nest in institutions, because an institution that has so many branches here and there, so many chiefs and vice-chiefs, like that, it’s very easy for it to fall or provide a nest for corruption and every institution can fall into this. Corruption is taking from the people. That corrupt person who does corrupt deals or governs corruptly or associates himself with others in order to do corrupt deals, robs the people. The victims are those — where is he, the one of the anniversary? (he refers to Salvatore Izzo)– they are those who you said were behind the luxury hotel, no? They are the victims of corruption. Corruption is not closed in on itself; it goes out and kills. Do you understand? Today corruption is a worldwide problem.

Once, in 2001 more or less, I asked the chief of the cabinet of the president at that time, which was a government that we thought to be not so corrupt, and it was true, it was not so corrupt, the government: “Tell me, the aid that you send into the interior of the country, whether it be in cash or food or clothes, all these things, how much gets to the place.” Immediately this man, who is a true man, clean, said, “35 percent.” That’s what he told me. The year 2001 in my homeland. And now, corruption in ecclesial institutions. When I speak of the Church I like to speak of the faithful, the baptized, the whole Church, no? In that case, it’s better to speak of sinners. We are all sinners, no? But when we speak of corruption, we speak either or corrupt persons or of institutions in the Church that fall into corruption. And there are cases, yes, there are. I remember once, in the year 1994, when I had been scarcely named bishop of the Flores quarter of Buenos Aires, two employees or functionaries of a ministry came to me to tell me, “you have so much need here with so many poor in the villas miserias.” “Oh yes,” I said, and I told them. “We can help you. We have, if you want, a subsidy of 400,000 pesos.” At that time, the exchange rate with the dollar was one to one. $400,000. “You can do that?” “Yes, yes.” I listened because, when the offer is so big, the offer challenges even a saint. But they went on: “To do this, we make the deposit and then you give us half for ourselves.” In that moment I thought about what I would do: either I insult them and give them a kick where the sun doesn’t shine, or I play the fool. I played the fool and said, in truth, we at the vicariate don’t have an account; you have to make the deposit at the archdiocese’s office with the receipt. And that was it. “Oh, we didn’t know.” And they left. But later I thought, if these two landed without even asking for a runway — it’s a bad thought — it’s because someone else said yes. But it’s a bad thought, no?

Does corruption happen easily? Let’s remember this: sinners yes, corrupted no, corrupted never. We must ask pardon for those Catholics, those Christians who scandalize with their corruption. It’s a wound in the Church. But there are so many saints, so many saints. And sinner saints, but not corrupt. Let’s look at the other side, too: the Church is holy. There are some here and there. Thank you for having the courage to ask this question.

Anais Feuga (Radio France): We’ve flying over China. Coming back from Korea, you said you’re ready to go to China tomorrow. In the light of this declaration, can you explain why you didn’t receive the Dalai Lama when he was at Rome a little while ago, and where do relations with China stand?

Pope Francis: Thanks for asking me this question. It’s a habit in the protocol of the Secretariat of State not to receive heads of state and people at that level when they’re taking part in an international meeting here in Rome. For example, for FAO I didn’t receive anyone. That’s the reason he wasn’t received. I saw that some newspapers said I didn’t receive him out of fear of China. That’s not true. At that time, this protocol was the reason. He asked for an audience, and it was said … but a date, a certain point. He asked before, but not for this moment, we are in relation. The motive was not a refusal of a person, or fear of China. Yes, we are open, we want peace with everyone.

How do the relations with China stand? The government of China is respectful, we’re respectful, let’s take things one step at a time. That’s how things are done in history, no? We don’t yet know, but they know I’m available either to receive someone, or to go to China. They know. There was another question or not? Thank you.

Marco Ansaldo (La Repubblica): Holy Father, you have done an amazing trip, very rich, full of things, in the Philippines. But I would like to take a step back, because terrorism strikes Christianity, Catholics in many part of the world. We have recently seen it in Niger, but there are many examples. In the last trip we did, coming back from Turkey, you launched an appeal to Islamic leaders, saying that a step, a very firm intervention from them was needed.

Now, it does not seem to me that this has been considered and welcomed, despite your words. There are some moderate Islamic countries, I can easily provide the example of Turkey, that have at least an ambiguous attitude toward terrorism – and let’s mention the cases of ISIS and of Charlie Hebdo. I do not know if you had the occasion to reflect and think how to go beyond your invitation over this past one month and a half, since your appeal had not been welcomed and was important. You, or someone on your behalf, I see here Monsignor Becciu or Cardinal Parolin himself, because this problem will keep on questioning us. Thank you.

Pope Francis: I even repeated that appeal to the diplomatic corps on the very day I left for Sri Lanka. In my speech to the diplomatic corps, I said that I hope that — more or less, I don’t remember the exact words – religious, political, academic and intellectual leaders express themselves on the issue. Even the moderate Muslim people ask that of their leaders. Some have done something. I also think that we should give some time: it is not easy, no. I am hopeful, since there are many good people among them, many good leaders, I am sure we will achieve it. But I wanted to underscore that I repeated that on the day I departed from Rome.

Christoph Schmidt: Holy Father, first of all I would like to say: Thank you very much for all the impressive moments of this week. It is the first time I accompany you, and I would like to say thank you very much. My question: you have talked about the many children in the Philippines, about your joy because there are so many children, but according to some polls the majority of Filipinos think that the huge growth of Filipino population is one of the most important reasons for the enormous poverty in the country. A Filipino woman gives birth to an average of three children in her life, and the Catholic position concerning contraception seem to be one of the few question on which a big number of people in the Philippines do not agree with the Church. What do you think about that?

Pope Francis: I think the number of three children per family that you mentioned – it makes me suffer- I think it is the number experts say is important to keep the population going. Three per couple. When this decreases, the other extreme happens, like what is happening in Italy. I have heard, I do not know if it is true, that in 2024 there will be no money to pay pensioners because of the fall in population. Therefore, the key word, to give you an answer, and the one the Church uses all the time, and I do too, is responsible parenthood. How do we do this? With dialogue. Each person with his pastor seeks how to do carry out a responsible parenthood.

That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven who were born with caesareans. That is a an irresponsibility That woman might say ‘no, I trust in God.’ But, look, God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.

Another curious thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people, a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too, but for them a child is a treasure. Some would say ‘God knows how to help me’ and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity, but let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother who see a treasure in every child.

Elisabetta Pique, La Nacion: Representing the Spanish language group, I have two questions.  This was a moving voyage for everyone. We saw people crying the entire time in Tacloban, even we journalists cried.  Yesterday you said the world needs to cry.  We would like to ask you, what was – and it was all very moving – what was for you the most moving moment? That is the first question. The second, yesterday you made history, you surpassed the record set by John Paul II, in the same place, there were 6 or 7 million people. How does it feel to have seen – Cardinal Tagle was telling us that during the Mass in front of the altar you asked him, but how many people are here? How does it feel to have surpassed this record, to have entered into history as the Pope with the Mass with the highest attendance in history?  Thank you.

Pope Francis: The most moving moment: for me, the Mass in Tacloban was very moving. Very moving.  To see all of God’s people standing still, praying, after this catastrophe, thinking of my sins and those people, it was moving, a very moving moment. On the moment of the Mass there, I felt as though I was annihilated, I almost couldn’t speak. I don’t know what happened to me, maybe it was the emotion, I don’t know. But I didn’t feel another thing, it is something.  And then, the moving moments: the gestures were moving. Every gesture.  When I passed and a father would do this (gestures) and I blessed him, he would say thank you. But for them, a blessing was enough. I thought — I who have so many expectations — I want this and I want that. That was good for me, no? Moving moments.

After I found out that in Tacloban we landed with winds at 70 kilometres per hour, I took it seriously the warning that we needed to leave no later than one o’clock  because there was more danger. Regarding the great turnout, I felt annihilated.  These were God’s people, and God was present. And the joy of the presence of God which tells us, think on it well, that you are servants of these people, these people are the protagonists. Something like this. The other thing is the weeping. One of the things that is lost when there is too much wealth or when values are misunderstood or we have become accustomed to injustice, to this culture of waste, is the capacity to cry. This is a grace we must ask for. There is a beautiful prayer in the old missal (1962, editor’s note) for tears. It went more or less like this: ‘O Lord, you who have made it so that Moses with his cane made water flow from a stone, make it so from the rock that is my heart, that water of tears may flow.’ It’s a beautiful prayer.

We Christians must ask for the grace to cry. Especially wealthy Christians. To cry about injustice and to cry about sins. Because crying opens you to understand new realities, or new dimensions to realities. This is what the girl said, what I said to her. She was the only one to ask that question to which there is no answer: why do children suffer? The great Dostoyevsky asked himself this, and he could not answer. Why do children suffer?  She, with her weeping, a woman who was weeping. When I say it is important that women be held in higher consideration in the Church, it’s not just to give them a function as the secretary of a dicastery — though this would be fine.  No, it’s so that they may tell us tell us how they experience, and view reality. Because women view things from a different richness, a larger one. Another thing I would like to underscore is what I said to the last young man, who truly works well, he gives and gives and gives, he organizes to help the poor. But don’t forget that we too need to be beggars – from them.  Because the poor evangelize us. If we take the poor away from the Gospel, we cannot understand Jesus’ message. The poor evangelize us. I go to evangelize the poor, yes, but allow them to evangelize you. Because they have values that you do not.

I thank you very much for your work, I have esteem for it.  Thanks very much.  I know it is a sacrifice for you. Thanks very much. I would like make these thanks concrete towards our dean,  whose birthday it is today (Valentina Alazraki, editor’s note). We can’t say how old you are but you’ve worked here since you were a child, as a child, as a child. Best wishes.

[Translation provided by Catholic News Agency]

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On ZENIT’s website:

To read Part I, go to: 

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-part-i

To read Part II, go to:

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-part-ii

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