Text of In-Flight Press Conference

Impressions of Poland, accusations against Cardinal Pell, violence in Islam, and Peter in Panama, among other themes …

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Sunday evening, during the flight from Krakow to Rome, at the end of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Poland on the occasion of the 31st World Youth Day, he met with journalists on board the plane in a press conference.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the transcription of the conference.
* * *
(Father Lombardi)
Holy Father, thank you so much for being with us here, on the return from this trip. Notwithstanding this evening’s storm, it seems to me that everything went very well, that we are all very happy and satisfied with these days and hope that you are too. As usual, we will ask you some questions. However, if you would like to say something by way of introduction, we are at your disposition.
(Pope Francis)
Good evening, and I thank you for your work and your company. I would like to give you, because you are her work companions, my condolences for the death of Anna Maria Jacobini. Today I received her sister, nephew and niece, they were so grieved by this. It’s a sadness of this trip.
Then I would like to thank Father Lombardi and Mauro De Horatis, because this is the last trip they make with us. Father Lombardi has been with Vatican Radio for more than 25 years and then 10 at the Press Office. And Mauro has been in charge of the baggage in the flights for 37 years. I thank Mauro and Father Lombardi very much. And then, at the end, we will thank them with a cake.
And I am at your disposition. The trip is brief. We will do it quickly this time.
(Father Lombardi)
Thank you, Holy Father. We will have the first question asked as usual by one of our Polish colleagues – Magdalena Wolinska of Tvp.
(Magdalena Wolinska – Tvp – Telewizia Polska)
Holy Father, in your first address at Wawel, just after the arrival at Krakow, you said you were happy to begin to know Eastern Central Europe, in fact, with Poland. In the name of our nation, I would like to ask you how you experienced this Poland over these five days? What did you think of it?
(Pope Francis)
It was a special Poland, because it was a Poland “invaded” once again, but this time by young people! From what I saw of Krakow, it is so beautiful. The Polish people are so enthusiastic. Look at this evening – with the rain, along the streets, and not only young people, also little old ladies… It is goodness, nobility. I had an experience of knowing Poles when I was a child: after the War, many Poles came to work where my father worked. They were good people, and this <thought> remained in my heart. I have found this goodness of yours a beautiful thing. Thank you!
(Father Lombardi)
Now we give the floor to another Polish colleague, Urzula Rzepczak of Polsat.
(Urzula Rzepczak – Polsat)
Holy Father, our young people were moved by your words, which corresponded very well to their reality and their problems. But in your addresses you also used words and expressions proper of the language of young people. How did you prepare for this? How were you able to give so many examples so close to their life, to their problems and with their words?
(Pope Francis)
I like to talk with young people, and I like to listen to young people. They always put me in difficulty, because they say things to me that I haven’t thought about or that I have only half thought about — restless young people, creative young people. I like them and learn that language from them. Many times I have to ask: “But what does this mean?” — and they explain to me what it means. I like to talk with them. They are our future, and we must dialogue. This dialogue between the past and future is important. That is why I stress so much the relation between young people and grandparents, and when I say “grandparents” I mean the oldest and not so much the elderly  — But I yes! – to also give our experience, so that they listen to the past, the history and take it up and carry it forward with the courage of the present, as I said this evening. It’s important, important! I don’t like to hear it said: “But these young people say silly things!” We also say many <silly things>! Young people say silly things and good things, like us, like all. But it’s necessary to listen to them, to talk with them, because we must learn from them, and they must learn from us. It’s like this. And thus history is made and so it grows without closings, without censures. I don’t know, it’s like this. So I learn these words.
(Father Lombardi)
Thank you so much. And now we give the floor to Marco Ansaldo of “La Repubblica,” who asks the question for the Italian group.
(Marco Ansaldo — La Repubblica)
Holiness, according to almost the totality of international observers, the repression in Turkey and the fifteen days that followed the coup, was, perhaps, worse than the coup d’Etat. Whole categories were affected: military men, magistrates, public administrators, diplomats, and journalists. I quote data of the Turkish government: there is talk of more than 13,000 arrests, an additional 50,000 persons “sacked” – a purge. Day before yesterday, in face of foreign criticisms, President Recep Tayyip Eerdogan said: “Pay attention to your own affairs!” We would like to ask you: why have you not intervened, have not spoken up to now? Are you afraid, perhaps, that there could be persecutions against the Catholic minority in Turkey? Thank you.
(Pope Francis)
When I had to say something that Turkey didn’t like, but of which I was certain, I said it with the consequences that you know. I said those words  …; I was certain. I have not spoken because I’m still not sure, with the information I’ve received, of what is happening there. I listen to the information that arrives at the State Secretariat, and also that of some important political analysts. I’m also studying the situation with collaborators of the State Secretariat and the situation is still unclear. It’s true, evil to Catholics must always be avoided – and we all do this – but not at the price of the truth. There is the virtue of prudence – this must be said, when and how, but in my case you are witnesses that when I had to say something that concerned Turkey, I said it.
(Father Lombardi)
Now we give the floor to Frances D’Emilio, who is the colleague of Associated Press, the great English language Agency.
(Frances D’Emilio – Associated Press)
Good evening. My question is one that many ask themselves these days, because it came to light in Australia that the Australian Police is investigating new accusations against Cardinal Pell, and this time the accusations have to do with abuse of minors, which are very different from the previous accusations. The question I ask myself, and that many others ask is: in your opinion, what would be the right thing to do for Cardinal Pell, given the serious situation, the very important position and the trust he enjoys on your part?
(Pope Francis)
Thank you. The first news that arrived was confusing. It was information of 40 years ago and not even the Police paid attention to it initially – something confusing. Then all the denunciations were presented to Justice and at this moment they are in the hands of Justice. We must not judge before Justice judges. If I gave a judgment in favor or against Cardinal Pell, it wouldn’t be good, because I would be judging first. It’s true; there is doubt. And there is that clear principle of law: in dubio pro reo. We must wait for Justice and not have a media judgment first, because this doesn’t help — the judgment of gossip, and then? We don’t know how it will turn out. Pay attention to what Justice decides; once Justice has spoken, I will speak. Thank you.
(Father Lombardi)
Now we give the floor to Hernan Reyes of Telam. As we know, he is Argentine and he now represents Latin America in our midst.
(Hernan Reyes)
Holiness, how are you after the fall the other day? We see you are well. This is the first question. The second: last week the General Secretary of UNASUR, Ernesto Samper, spoke of a mediation of the Vatican in Venezuela. Is it a concrete dialogue? Is this a real possibility? And how do you think this mediation, with the mission of the Church, can help to stabilize the country?
(Pope Francis)
First: the fall. I was looking at Our Lady and I forgot about the step. I had the thurible in my hand. When I realized I was falling I let myself fall, and this saved me, because if I had resisted, I would have suffered consequences. Nothing <is wrong>, I’m very well.
The second was? Venezuela. Two years ago, I had a very, very positive meeting with President Maduro. Then he asked for an audience last year: it was a Sunday, the day after my arrival from Sarajevo. However, he then cancelled that meeting, because he was ill with otitis and he couldn’t come. Then, after this, I let some time go by and I wrote him a letter. There were contacts – you mentioned one of them – for an eventual meeting. Yes, with the conditions that are stipulated in these cases. And there is thought of it at this moment, but I’m not sure, and I can assure you of this. Is this clear? I’m not sure that in the mediation group   someone — and I don’t know if the government also, but I’m not sure — wants a representative of the Holy See. This was the case up to the moment I left Rome. But the <individuals> are there. In the group there is Zapatero of Spain, Torrijos and someone else, and it was said a fourth of the Holy See. But I’m not sure about this.
(Father Lombardi)
Now we give the floor to Antoine-Marie Izoard of I.Media, of France. And we know what France is experiencing these days …
(Antoine-Marie Izoard – I.Media)
Holy Father, first of all I express my best wishes to you, to Father Lombardi and also to Father Spadaro for the feast of Saint Ignatius.
The question is somewhat more difficult. Catholics are under shock – and not only in France – after the terrible murder of Father Jacques Hamel in his church, while he was celebrating Mass. Four days ago, here, you said again that all religions want peace. But this holy 86-year-old priest was clearly killed in the name of Islam. Hence, Holy Father, I have two brief questions. When you speak of these violent acts, why do you always speak of terrorists and never of Islam? You never use the word “Islam.” And then, in addition to the prayers and dialogue, which are obviously very essential, what concrete initiative can you undertake or perhaps suggest to oppose Islamic violence? Thank you, Holiness.
(Pope Francis)
I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence because every day when I leaf through the newspapers I see violence here in Italy: one who kills his bride-to-be, another who kills his mother-in-law … And these are baptized violent Catholics! They are violent Catholics. If I spoke of Islamic violence, I should also speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent; not all Catholics are violent. It’s like a fruit salad, there’s a bit of everything, there are violent individuals of these religions. One thing is true: I believe that in almost all the religions there is always a small fundamentalist group. Fundamentalists, we have them. And when fundamentalism arrives at killing – but one can kill with the tongue, and the Apostle James says this, not I, and also with a knife – I believe it’s not right to identify Islam with violence. This isn’t right and it’s not true! I had a long conversation with the Great Imam of al-Azar University and I know what they think: they seek peace, encounter. The Nuncio of an African country told me that there is always a queue of people in the capital – it’s always full! – at the Holy Door for the Jubilee: some approach the confessionals, others pray in the pews. But the majority go ahead to pray at Our Lady’s altar: they are Muslims who want to <take part in> the Jubilee; they are brothers. When I was in Central Africa I went to them and the Imam even came onto the pope-mobile. One can coexist well, but there are small fundamentalist groups. And I also wonder how many young people – how many young people, that we Europeans have left empty of ideals, that don’t have work, that take to drugs, to alcohol … go there and enrol in fundamentalist groups. Yes, we can say that so-called ISIS is an Islamic State that presents itself as violent, because when they have us see their identity cards they make us see how on the Libyan coast they cut the throats of Egyptians, or things of that sort. But this is a small fundamentalist group, which is called ISIS.  But we can’t say – I don’t think it’s true or right <to say> – that Islam is terrorist.
(Antoine-Marie Izoard)
An initiative of yours to oppose terrorism, violence …
(Holy Father)
Terrorism is everywhere! Think of the tribal terrorism of some African countries … Terrorism – I don’t know if I should say it because it’s a bit dangerous – grows when there is no other option, when the god money and not the person – man and woman – is a the center of the global economy. This is the first terrorism now. It has thrown out the wonder of Creation, man and woman, and put money there. This is basic terrorism against the whole of humanity. Think about it.
(Father Lombardi)
Thank you, Holiness. As the announcement was made this morning that Panama will be the place of the next World Youth Day, a colleague is here who wants to give you a small gift to prepare you for this Day.
(Javier Martinez Brocal – Rome Reports)
Holy Father, you said earlier, in the meeting with volunteers, that perhaps you might not be at Panama. And you can’t do this, because we await you in Panama!
(Pope Francis, in Spanish)
If I don’t go, Peter will be there!
(Javier Martinez Brocal)
We believe you’ll be there! On behalf of Panamanians, I bring you two things: a shirt with the number 17, which is the date of your birth, and the hat that Panama’s campesinos wear. They asked me to have you put it on … if you wish to greet the Panamanians … Thank you!
(Pope Francis, in Spanish)
Thank you so much, Panamanians, for this. I hope you will prepare yourselves well, with the same strength, the same spirituality and the same depth with which the Poles prepared themselves, the inhabitatnts of Krakow and all the Poles.
(Antoine-Marie Izoard)
Holiness, in the name of my colleague journalists, because I’m somewhat obliged to represent them, I would also like to say two words, if you allow me Holiness, about Father Lombardi, to thank him.
It’s impossible to summarize 10 years of Father Lombardi’s presence in the Press Office: with Pope Benedict, then an unheard of interregnum and then your election, Holy Father, and the subsequent surprises. What can certainly be said is the constant availability, commitment and dedication of Father Lombardi; his incredible capacity to answer or not answer our questions, often strange, and this is also an art. And then, too, his somewhat British humour: in all situations, even the worst. And we have so many examples of this.
[Addressing Father Lombardi] We obviously welcome with joy his successors, two good journalists, but we don’t forget that you, in addition to being a journalist, were and still are a priest and also a Jesuit. We won’t fail to celebrate fittingly in September your departure for other services, but we want to express to you our best wishes already today – best wishes for the feast of Saint Ignatius and then for a long life, of 100 years as they say in Poland, of humble service. Stolat is said in Poland: Stolat Father Lombardi!
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

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