Pope Francis granted an interview to TV2000 and to InBluRadio of the Italian episcopal conference, on the occasion of the closing of the Holy Year of Mercy. The Holy Father reflected on the Jubilee and on the “Fridays of Mercy” and other subjects, such as “the pastoral care of prisoners” and the “idolatry of money.” He also revealed his “secret” against stress and his “allergy” to “flatterers.”
In the interview, the Pope said that the Year of Mercy was “a necessity for this world,” saying the world has the “sickness of rejection, the sickness of closing the heart, of egoism.” And he is certain that the Year “opened hearts and many people encountered Jesus.”
In regard to the Fridays of Mercy, the Pontiff recalled two situations especially. The first was when he visited women being rescued from prostitution. He mentioned one who came from Africa. “She was pregnant; not only did she suffer exploitation, but she was also subjected to beatings and torture,” adding that, once she gave birth alone, in winter, on the street. One day they cut <this woman’s ear> because she had not earned enough, he said.
Another instance he remembers especially of the Fridays of Mercy is the day he went to accompany the two ends of life: newborns and terminally ill patients. In the Maternity Room he found a woman weeping in front of her twins, a third baby had died. “Then I thought of that habit to get rid of children before they are born, that horrendous crime. They get rid of them, because it’s ‘better’ for them that way, it’s more comfortable. It’s a very great responsibility; it’s a very grave sin,” stressed the Holy Father in the interview.
On the other hand, the Pontiff reminded once again that “God’s greatest enemy is money.” Money is an instrument made to serve, and poverty is at the heart of the Gospel, and Jesus speaks of this clash: two lords, two masters.
Responding to a question on “the temptations of a Pope,” Francis said that they “are the temptations of any person.” Moreover, he reminded that “temptations accompany us until the last minute” of our lives.
Another subject he addressed was work with prisoners. The Holy Father stressed that “if a punishment has no hope it’s not a Christian punishment, it’s not human,” adding that the death penalty is not right.
Referring to the work of mercy “to endure annoying people,” the Pope was asked, “What is more difficult for you to endure: the insults of your detractors or the feigned admiration of your flatterers?” To which Francis responded that he is “allergic” to flatterers, because to flatter someone is to use a person, in a hidden or visible way, to obtain something for oneself. It’s unworthy. In regard to detractors, he said that they “speak badly of me because I deserve it, because I’m a sinner: or at least I want to think that (laughs).”
To conclude the interview, the Pontiff answered a question on how to handle stress.
“I don’t know how I do it, but I pray: this helps me a lot. I pray. Prayer helps me; it’s being with the Lord,” he said. Moreover, “I sleep well,” he added, stating that on the day of the aftershocks of the earthquake he didn’t feel a thing.