Cardinal Schonborn - Copyright: Archdiocese of Vienna

Cardinal Schonborn to ZENIT: We As Colonial Powers Must Be Very Alert & Attentive to Those Threatened for Centuries

Responds to What He Has Learned From the Synod and What He Has Taken Away From It

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Cardinal Christoph Schonborn says that colonial powers have an obligation to be attentive to these people who have been threatened and have run the risk of extinction for centuries…

He told this to ZENIT when they inquired about what he has learned or taken away so far from this Synod on the Amazon, when speaking to journalists in the Holy See Press Office this last week of the Synod.

Responding to what has struck him and would bring back from it to Vienna, he replied: «I have learned, first of all, very much about the courage of these indigenous people, who live under threat for 500 years.»

Human Tragedy

«We as colonial powers,» he underscored, «we have to be very alert, very attentive to these people, who are under threat, and who run the threat of extinction for centuries.»

«The Church has always had some voices, not enough voices, to defend the indigenous,» the Archbishop of Vienna observed, acknowledging:  «I think [Bartolome de] Las Casas, I am myself a Dominican, but Las Casas, and others, the Franciscans, and those missionaries in the last century or last two centuries who really served this people.»

Regardless of all these missionaries have done, Cardinal Schonborn appealed: «it still remains a great drama, and a tragedy, a human tragedy.»

Pope Francis insists to alert the whole Catholic Church about the destiny of these people. «I think this is a great sign, and I have learned so much, especially to be attentive to those who do not have a voice.»

Being Pope Means Being Criticized … and Loved

Other questions asked the cardinal to comment on the criticism Pope Francis receives, and how it compares to other Popes. Cardinal Schonborn observed that the criticism and opposition Pope Francis receives could seem similar to that received by St. Pope Paul VI, and noting criticism is part of the life of a Pope.

«To be Pope means to be criticized, and be loved, and prayed for and admired by so many people around the world,» he reflected.

«We, all the Catholics around the world, all 1.2 billion,  pray every Sunday for this Pope, and we will do so for the next Pope. So this,» he noted, «is much more impressive for me.»

When asked–as a close collaborator to recent Popes–why he thinks there is so much negativity directed toward Pope Francis, he expressed he would give «a short reply to a long question.»

My Simple, Basic Catholic Attitude

«I am old enough to have memories of the pontificate of St Paul VI and the critiques he received are very similar to those Pope Francis receives: one one side, he is the ‘destructor’ of the Church; for others, he was the impediment of progress of the Church and he in the middle was simply the Pope.»

«That is my simple, basic Catholic attitude. He is the Pope,» he said.

«I have had good with relations with St. John Paul II and I was a student of Pope Benedict when he was professor and I had the chance to work with him in many circumstances, namely Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I have never seen the slightest, the slightest opposition,» he firmly stated, acknowledging: «There are differences, because every Pope has his own story and his own character, but it’s always the Pope.»

«Therefore, it’s very clear for me to be loyal to the Pope. Full Stop.»

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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