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Pope Francis with Charismatic catholic renewal - 3 july 2015

CTV - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

INTERVIEW: Andrea Tornielli on an Encounter With Heart of Pope Francis

In Interview with ZENIT, Speaks on How Holy Father’s Humble, Caring Example Struck Him, Should Touch Us All

It’s about making an encounter with the heart of the Pope possible. Andrea Tornielli says this is his hope for his book-interview with the Holy Father, “The Name of God Is Mercy,” which debuted in 86 countries last Tuesday.

The Italian journalist, who has known Pope Francis through the years, was interviewed by ZENIT after the book’s launch at the Vatican’s Augustinianum. The launch event welcomed interventions by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin; director of Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), Father  Giuseppe Costa; and even internationally known, beloved Academy Award-winning, Italian Actor Roberto Benigni, who is always remembered for his leaping over the seats when he won the Oscar for “Life Is Beautiful.”

The presentation was moderated by Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi.

During his conversation with ZENIT, Tornielli shared warm anecdotes of his time with the Holy Father and what he learned from the Pontiff. He also reflected on what we should take away from his work and apply in our own lives.

What is important, the Vaticanista explains, is how Francis is opening a door, has the power to touch each person’s life personally, and is inviting us to do what the Gospel calls us to do.

In addition to speaking on what touched him most from his time with the Pope, Tornielli explains what he believes to be the greater-reaching consequences this book can have on conveying mercy. He also addresses whether and why controversial issues would or wouldn’t appear in the text and reaffirms that Francis’ words on mercy are no different than that of his predecessors.

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ZENIT: How is this book a helpful guide to those who read it? What can it communicate?

Tornielli: I don’t think this book was needed. I think we need the message of mercy. And the Pope explains it very well also in his homily on Jan.1 that in our world divided by violence, contrast and conflicts, in this sort of Third World War, but in different pieces around the world, we need mercy. So this book channels mercy. It shows that mercy is bigger than all the difficulties in our world and it means that we need this message. I was touched that this message of forgiveness, or message of mercy, is bigger than all the difficulties in our world.  I was touched that this message of forgiveness and message of mercy is not only a message for people, family, but also for society, nations, and also the relationship between states, and so could have political consequences. It is something that, for example, for people who are prisoners, that necessity to forgive, is something without…. There is no justice without forgiveness.

ZENIT: Is Pope Francis’ message of mercy in continuity with his predecessors?

Tornielli: Absolutely, because first of all it started in the past century. Since … Pope John Paul II left us with the message of St. Maria Faustina and the message of mercy. Also Pope Benedict XVI spoke about mercy. Absolutely, it is in continuity with his predecessors. It is clear, in my opinion, that every Pope is underlining something. It is the tradition of the Church.

But Francis is not underlining something that is outside or different from the Christian message, but that is inside and is so essential. It is interesting how often in this book he quotes the fathers of the Church in the early centuries. It is not a novelty. It is not an invention of Pope Francis or of the popes in the last century. But every pope in every new situation could underline the specific message of Christian faith.

ZENIT: Even if some say there are not ‘novelties’ regarding controversial issues, as the Pope hasn’t touched doctrine, what does it show pastorally?

Tornielli: I only mention one thing about Church doctrine, but there are not questions or answers about controversial issues because I want that this book could represent a kind of open door,  And the possibility of an encounter with the the heart of the Pope about mercy, and for that reason there are not the controversial issues, including the issue of the divorced and remarried.

ZENIT: For you personally, how was this experience to sit down with Pope Francis? Have this time with him?

Tornielli: It was great and I was so touched for his personal testimony. His capacity to witness the face of a God who is trying all the possibilities to go near the people, to give the gift of forgiveness, and that is the most important message of the book, I think. Talking about his experiences, his personal life, it is clear for me how he witnesses this attitude.

ZENIT: Personally, was there something Pope Francis said that made you reflect on your own life?

Tornielli: Every page of this book touched me. For example, he is a humble man and he explained very well the necessity to be humble because the difference between the sinner and the corrupt is not the quality of the sins, and not how many, but is the attitude of the person because the sinner is humble and he needs forgiveness. The corrupt, no.

ZENIT: As a dad, any takeaways as a father or relating to family life?

Tornielli: The personal takeaway I would say is realizing this necessity for this type of particular attention to the life of people in front of you, as the Holy Father illustrates. This was touching. When we started talking, it was hot in July. And he asked me to take the coat {off}, because it was so hot and then after that, he saw I had three different recorders but no sheet paper to take notes. So he wants to give me a sheet of paper. ‘You have no paper to take notes,’ it’s a simple thing, but it’s about the necessity to really give your attention to the person who is in front of you.

ZENIT: Lastly, do you have any hopes for this book? And what would you consider the biggest takeaways regarding mercy?

Tornielli: I hope also that this book makes it possible to better understand the heart of the Pope and also that, with the book, the Pope is trying to speak from his heart to the hearts of the people, to believers and non believers.

ZENIT: Is there something in particular about mercy you’d like to highlight?

Tornielli: I was so touched by the fact that he identified himself as a sinner but as a sinner who received forgiveness. And this is important because without the experience of recognizing ourselves as sinners and to be forgiven, it is not possible to be able to give forgiveness and mercy like the Gospel is telling us.

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a 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 four languages). She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, EWTN and Salt & Light. For 'The Other Francis': https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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