Before Pope Francis departs Friday afternoon for the third leg of his Apostolic Visit to Latin America, July 5-13, Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, has spoken about the Pope’s to-date experience in Bolivia. After his first stop in Ecuador, the Pope is in the nation before flying later today to Paraguay.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Vatican spokesman touched on various topics, among which were the Pope’s intense day in Santa Cruz, his speech and words to the Popular Movements, as well as his meeting with religous and his visit to his friend.
On the Pope’s intense day in Santa Cruz, Fr. Lombardi said that given all the suffering and injustices which exist, the Pope addressed “the problems of society, the globalized world of today, demonstrating the need for change.”
In addressing the Popular Movements, he explained, Francis was recognizing the marginal or poor situations in which the nation’s people find themselves, living in a reality where many things–politically, socially, and economically–have gone wrong. He noted how Francis is inviting them–in spite of the difficulties they face–to be creative and to commit themselves to be protagonists of that needed change.
Fr. Lombardi responded to a question which observed that someone suggested the Pope’s participation in the meeting was possible political manipulation. Fr. Lombardi denied the accusation, saying that people often try “to see things from their point of view and interpret them in ways that are favorable to their positions or own interests.” He noted how the Pope spoke with great freedom, strength and consistency.
When asked if the Pope, now in possession of the meeting’s final document, will use it, he noted, that “will depend on him.” He acknowledged that the movements prepared the document, thinking of Francis’ next major events, in particular the United Nations. While the Pope could speak to the UN on the topic, Fr. Lombardi noted, “We do not know exactly how or in what way.”
Asking forgiveness of the indigenous
The interviewer next said, “Another significant step is that in which the Pope asked forgiveness for the sins of the Church against indigenous peoples during the conquest …”
Responding, Fr. Lombardi said, “Yes, of course this is always a very difficult topic to be explored in the best way, from the point of view of history, from the point of view of the distinction of the real and specific responsibility of individuals or communities or states.” The Pope, he added, “wanted to recognize very clearly – in line with how his predecessors did – that there were some faults, the faults serious, crimes against people who were in the Americas” and that it must be admitted if you want to rebuild a society that fully respects the diversity of cultures, of their dignity and the dignity of indigenous peoples.
The Vatican Press Office director also noted the warm reception of the Pontiff by the priests, religious and seminarians. He stressed, “The Pope made a very rich, very articulate, very deeply felt speech,” and this certainly was an occasion “of great comfort” to those who participated. Another moment of comfort, Fr. Lombardi also touched on, was how the day ended with the Pope visiting his life-long friend, Cardinal Terrazas.
The Pope’s visit to Bolivia–especially through his words which refer more widely to the the country’s situation– offer the people hope as the face really difficult situations. About the festive, warm welcome of the Pontiff by the people, Fr. Lombardi said it is very beautiful and in line with that of Francis’ welcome in Ecuador.
“The type of language, the kind of example the Pope makes,” the spokesman noted, “very deeply touch the heart” and “arouse a big positive reaction.”
During the interview, Fr. Lombardi underscored how “the Pope does not enter into discussions of a political nature,” but he does encourage dialogue.