“A great emotion, an extraordinary privilege.” These were the words Ferruccio de Bortoli, editor in chief of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, used to describe his recent interview with Pope Francis.
In an interview today with Vatican Radio, de Bortoli recalled how there were no questions off the table in the lengthy exchange with the Holy Father. When asked if there were any responses from the Pope that surprised him, the Italian editor said he was surprised by the final part of the interview where the Holy Father speaks of his youth.
However, he noted, this “spontaneity has now entered in the public perception of the extraordinary image of this Pontiff.”
At times, there was the impression of having always known him, of having been with him on other occasions, it is as if he entered into our families, in the families of those who believe and who do not believe; and it is a sign of great hope,” he said.
De Bortoli went on to say that in this time, where hope and optimism is lacking in the world, the Pope has been able to offer it through his words.
The editor was also asked about the Pope’s words on the popularity of his public image, which the Holy Father described as a “certain mythology.”
“When it is said, for instance, that I go out from the Vatican at night to feed beggars on Via Ottaviano – I would never even think of it. To paint the Pope as if he is a sort of Superman, a sort of star, I find offensive. The Pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps peacefully and has friends like everyone else. He is a normal person,” Pope Francis said in the interview. De Bortoli said the Holy Father only wished to “demistify” his public figure.
“[Pope Francis] says that the “Francis mania” won’t last long: we believe that it can and should last a long time,£ the newspaper editor said. “But,surely, he has said in this interview, that some of the mystification, some exaggerations appeared out of place.”
Concluding his interview, De Bortoli was asked by Vatican Radio about his thoughts on comparing Pope Francis to another famed Jesuit, the Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who also once contributed with Corriere della Sera. While he acknowledged that the Pope and the late cardinal were a bit different, both listened and were close to both believers and nonbelievers alike.
“There was always this desire to engage in dialogue, because it is only through dialogue where common points are discovered – that “being together” which Francis spoke about in the interview – that being together makes the Church grow,” de Bortoli said.