Papa Francisco and Norah O'Donnell Photo: 60 minutes

From Putin to Gaza, abuse and Fiducia Supplicans. Interview with the Pope

Interview with the Pope on the CBS Evening News program in the United States.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 05.21.2024).- The American network CBS aired an interview with Pope Francis on the evening of Monday, May 20th. In this new interview, CBS Evening News anchor and chief editor Norah O’Donnell questions the Pope about various current topics of interest. We provide a transcript of the interview:


Question: During World Children’s Day, the U.N. says over a million people will be facing famine in Gaza, many of them children. 

 Pope Francis: Not just in Gaza. Think of Ukraine. Many kids from Ukraine come here. You know something? That those children don’t know how to smile? I’ll say something to them (mimics smile)… they have forgotten how to smile. And that is very painful.

Question: Do you have a message for Vladimir Putin when it comes to Ukraine?

Pope Francis: Please, warring countries, all of them, stop. Stop the war. You must find a way of negotiating for peace. Strive for peace. A negotiated peace is always better than an endless war.

Question: What’s happening– in Israel and Gaza, has caused so much division, so much pain around the world. I don’t know if you’ve seen in the United States, big protests on college campuses and growing antisemitism. What would you say about how to change that?

Pope Francis: All ideology is bad, and antisemitism is an ideology, and it is bad. Any «anti» is always bad. You can criticize one government or another, the government of Israel, the Palestinian government. You can criticize all you want, but not «anti» a people. Neither anti-Palestinian nor antisemitic. No.

Question: I know you call for peace. You have called for a cease-fire in many of your sermons. Can you help negotiate peace?

Pope Francis: (sighs) What I can do is pray. I pray a lot for peace. And also, to suggest, «Please, stop. Negotiate.»

Question: My grandparents were Catholic. Immigrated from Northern Ireland in the 1930s to the United States, seeking a better life. And I know your family, too, fled fascism. And you have talked about with migrants, many of them children, that you encourage governments to build bridges, not walls.

Pope Francis: Migration is something that makes a country grow. They say that you Irish migrated and brought the whiskey, and that the Italians migrated and brought the mafia… (laugh) It’s a joke. Don’t take it badly. But, migrants sometimes suffer a lot. They suffer a lot.

Question: I grew up in Texas, and I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the state of Texas is attempting to shut down a Catholic charity on the border with Mexico that offers undocumented migrants humanitarian assistance. What do you think of that?

Pope Francis: That is madness. Sheer madness. To close the border and leave them there, that is madness. The migrant has to be received. Thereafter you see how you are going to deal with him. Maybe you have to send him back, I don’t know, but each case ought to be considered humanely. Right?

Question: Your first trip as Pope was the Island of Lampedusa, where you talked about suffering. And I was so struck when you talked about the globalization of indifference. What is happening? 

Pope Francis: Do you want me to state it plainly? People wash their hands! There are so many Pontius Pilates on the loose out there… who see what is happening, the wars, the injustice, the crimes… «That’s OK, that’s OK» and wash their hands. It’s indifference. That is what happens when the heart hardens… and becomes indifferent. Please, we have to get our hearts to feel again. We cannot remain indifferent in the face of such human dramas. The globalization of indifference is a very ugly disease. Very ugly.

Question: You have done more than anyone to try and reform the Catholic Church and repent for years of unspeakable sexual abuse against children by members of the clergy. But has the church done enough?

Pope Francis (In Spanish/English translation): It must continue to do more. Unfortunately, the tragedy of the abuses is enormous. And against this, an upright conscience and not only to not permit it but to put in place the conditions so that it does not happen.

Question: You have said zero tolerance.

Pope Francis: It cannot be tolerated. When there is a case of a religious man or woman who abuses, the full force of the law falls upon them. In this there has been a great deal of progress.

Question: Last year you decided to allow Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples. That’s a big change. Why?

Pope Francis: No, what I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I cannot. The Lord made it that way. But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone.

To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not? The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!

Question: You have said, «Who am I to judge?» «Homosexuality is not a crime.»

Pope Francis: No. It is a human fact.

Question: There are conservative bishops in the United States that oppose your new efforts to revisit teachings and traditions. How do you address their criticism?

Pope Francis: You used an adjective, «conservative.» That is, conservative is one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that. It is a suicidal attitude. Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.

Question: I know women who are cancer survivors who cannot bear children, and they turn to surrogacy. This is against church doctrine.

Pope Francis: In regard to surrogate motherhood, in the strictest sense of the term, no, it is not authorized. Sometimes surrogacy has become a business, and that is very bad. It is very bad.

Question: But sometimes for some women it is the only hope.

 Pope Francis: It could be. The other hope is adoption. I would say that in each case the situation should be carefully and clearly considered, consulting medically and then morally as well. I think there is a general rule in these cases, but you have to go into each case in particular to assess the situation, as long as the moral principle is not skirted. But you are right. I want to tell you that I really liked your expression when you told me, «In some cases it is the only chance.» It shows that you feel these things very deeply. Thank you. (smiles)

Norah O’Donnell: I think that’s why so many people– have found hope with you, because you have been more open and accepting perhaps than other previous leaders of the church.

 Pope Francis: You have to be open to everything. The Church is like that: Everyone, everyone, everyone. «That so-and-so is a sinner…?» Me too, I am a sinner. Everyone! The Gospel is for everyone. If the Church places a customs officer at the door, that is no longer the church of Christ. Everyone.

Question: When you look at the world what gives you hope?

Pope Francis: Everything. You see tragedies, but you also see so many beautiful things. You see heroic mothers, heroic men, men who have hopes and dreams, women who look to the future. That gives me a lot of hope. People want to live. People forge ahead. And people are fundamentally good. We are all fundamentally good. Yes, there are some rogues and sinners, but the heart itself is good.

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