In a lengthy conversation with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki, a veteran in the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of subjects: the situation of Argentine Bishop, Monsignor Zanchetta; the recent changes in the Council of Cardinals, which advises the Pope; the Meeting on the Protection of Minors, held in the Vatican last February; migration and violence against women.
“The world doesn’t function without women,” said the Pontiff, referring to the importance of women’s role in our society, a subject of great social importance and especially highlighted in his pontificate.
The Holy Father granted Televisa, a Mexican means of communication, an interview, the transcription of which was published on May 28, 2019, by “Vatican News” in Spanish.
* * *
Abuses in the Church
After last February’s important meeting with the Pope in the Vatican of the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences worldwide, to work on the prevention of sexual abuses in the Church, the Holy Father reveals that he “was left with a very great feeling of ecclesial communion, especially of “the Pope with the Bishops.”
“Then I felt the seriousness with which they addressed this, if not the first day, some on the second, when they realized that the ‘potatoes were burning’ — something serious, very serious, addressed very well — the results of reflection,” he continues.
In this connection, the Pontiff says that “we are in a process” and he stresses that his policy “is to open processes.” “We are in a good process, which is going to be controlled every six months, etc. This is here, in the documents,” he explains.
A Serious Line, as Pastor
However, the Holy Father says that he was sad that some of the media and some individuals did not understand well his final address. “Evidently the percentage of priests that have fallen into this form part of a whole, a global corruption in pedophilia. It’s terrible, isn’t it? It’s terrible . . . And that’s why I wanted all to have the statistics of UNICEF, of the United Nations, the most serious ones, the serious statistics, which doesn’t mean ‘ah, as they all do it, it’s not such a big deal.’ No! Even if it were only one, it’s monstrous, I say, it’s monstrous! A priest must take a child to Jesus, and with that [offense] he destroys him; he buries him. That is the great monstrosity, which is graver than all the rest.”
In regard to the final guidelines, the Pope clarifies that he wrote that address “slowly. He prayed. “I asked Jesus to help me to give a serious line, to speak as Pastor, and not as the conclusion of a congress. And that is also inspiring.”
Information Leaks in the Vatican
Valentina Alazraki asks Pope Francis about the possibility of the existence of “corruption” in the Church, given that all the information on cases and investigations of Cardinals’ and Bishops’ abuses does not always reach the Pontiff.
The Holy Father answers that “evidently, it must be sorted out, and I make the effort to sort it out when there are such things.” However, he says that “it’s not always corruption . . . sometimes it’s a curial style — yes, at bottom there is a law of corruption; however, it’s a style that one must help to correct and it’s being worked on well; my collaborators are working well on this.”
He describes his collaborators as “loyal people, who move in this regard, but . . . evidently, the fact is true: information arrives that doesn’t correspond with the reality. Yes, then some say: ‘yes, we informed, we said . . . ‘ Yes, but the truth is that in the prepared dossiers it wasn’t included, because the majority here [in the Curia] did not know about it either — none of my collaborators, neither the Secretary of State nor the one in charge of matters with the States knew those things.”
“The Lord helps us, good work is being done, including the dialogue with abused persons in Chile is working very well, and I have received some of them here. They realized that the Church loves them and is ready to put an end to this matter with all that it costs, with all that it costs in terms of effort and also prayer, asking the Lord to enlighten me so I won’t make a mistake in this appointment, in that other one.”
From C9 to C6
The Council of Cardinals, advisers of Pope Francis, has gone from 9 to 6, explains the Pope himself. “Cardinal Pell obviously, who is in prison and condemned. Well, he appealed, but he is condemned. Cardinal Errazuriz, it was obvious, he couldn’t continue there. And Cardinal Monsengwo was already 80. And then, well, <there were> reasons of age. Rodriguez Madariaga 75, stayed because he is the Coordinator and Bertello, who is over 75, because he is the Governor. I can’t make do without the Governor and the Coordinator.
The Zanchetta Case: “I didn’t stay still”
Monsignor Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta resigned as Bishop of the diocese of Oran in Argentina in July 2017. After accepting his resignation, Pope Francis had him come to Rome. After going through a period of psychiatric treatment in Madrid (Spain), he appointed him later Adviser of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See on December 19, 2017, when “no charge of sexual abuse had yet emerged,” clarified Alessandro Gisotti, interim Director of the Holy See Press Office on January 5, 2019. “The accusations of sexual abuse go back to this fall.”
Asked by Valentina Alazraki, Pope Francis explains that Monsignor Zanchetta “was economically disordered, but he did not have bad economic management in the works he did. He was disordered but his vision is good. And I began to look for his successor. Once the new Bishop was in place, in December of last year I decided to undertake an investigation prior to the existing accusations. I appointed the Archbishop of Tucuman and the Congregation for Bishops suggested several names. I called the President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference and asked him to choose, and he said the best for this was the Archbishop of Tucuman. Of course, mid-December in Argentina is like mid-June here, namely, holidays and then January and February is like July-August here. However, they did a little. Now the thing is that the <investigation> reached me some 15 days ago. The prior investigation has now reached me officially. I read it, and I saw that it was necessary to make a judgment.”
So the Holy Father gave the responsibility to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is preparing the judgment. He also says that “the Pope does not have to publish every day what he is doing; however, I was not at peace from the first moment of this case. There are cases that are long, which expect more, as this one, and I explained why, because I didn’t have the elements, for one reason or another, but today it’s already being treated in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
The Mexican journalist also asks the Pope about the complicated trip to Chile in January 2018, where he was much criticized for defending the innocence of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, of the Diocese of Osorno, accused of covering up Father Karadima, condemned for sexual abuses, and for which later the Poe apologized to the victims and the people affected.
Monsignor Juan Barros Madrid, appointed Bishop of Osorno in 2015, was accused of knowing of the sexual abuse of his former mentor, Fernando Karadima, while he was a seminarian. Bishop Karadims was condemned by the Vatican for sexual and psychological abuse in 2011, and sentenced to retire to a monastery for a life of “prayer and penance,” without any pastoral mission, while the events were prescribed for Chilean Justice.
Previously, the survivor of Karadima’s abuses had met several times with the Pope. The first time was in Chile, during the Apostolic Journey of January 2018, which was marked by pain and mistrust of the Church. Those days, the world’s media pictured the great absence of the faithful on the streets of the Chilean capital.
Build Bridges, Instead of Walls
In regard to the wall that President Trump built on the border with Mexico, the Bishop of Rome reminds that we already knew the Berlin Wall and that man has fallen again into the same “hole.”
For the Holy Father, the walls in the USA, in Ceuta and Melilla or in any other part of the world, are “cruel,” because “to separate children from their parents goes against the Natural Law.”
He stresses, moreover, that anyone “who builds walls ends up being a prisoner of them, and that, to defend territories, a political and cultural bridge can be used, as “one who builds bridges fraternizes, gives a hand, even if he stays on the other side.”
In regard to the humanitarian crisis generated by the agglomeration of migrants in the Mexican territory, which generates conflicts and problems of xenophobia, the Pope laments that it’s a global problem, fruit of the pure prevailing market economy, which doesn’t work for humanity. In response to this problem, the Pope exhorts politicians to carry out their work with creativity. “Be creative in politics, a politics of dialogue, of development, of commitment.
Valentina Alazraki asks the Pope for his opinion on those that defend the position that to end drug trafficking, a pact should be made with those responsible for it.
This doesn’t “sound right” to the Pontiff. “It’s as if, to help evangelize a country, I made a pact with the devil . . . that is, there are pacts that can’t be made. A political pact must be made for the good of the country.”
Pope Francis also believes that a political agreement must be made “between the different political parties, between the different sectors of society, including the Church, which will help resolve the grave problems of society.
Violence against Women
Alazraki asks the Pope about the question of violence against women and femicides. In this connection, the Holy Father stresses that women find themselves in “second place” and still today we are surprised, for instance, if they are winners of a Nobel Prize.
This global conception makes women become more easily salves and victims of violence to the point of arriving at death.
The Pope describes women as “fighters” and “brilliant,” always ready to “cover weakness, to save life.” And he gives as an example, which impressed him, the lines of women he sees when he visits prisons and the women of Paraguay who fought for their homeland.
Pope Francis wished to end the interview by recalling two women — Rocio and Grecia — who have suffered violence in their respective lives and who “pass without leaving their name but leave the seed.” He asks TV watchers “that at some moment they have a little while of silence in their heart” and “think of the many women like them, like Rocio and Grecia.
In reference to the summit on abuses, Pope Francis answers the criticisms that he blamed the devil and explained that that was not his full message but only part of a long address.
In addition, he points out that Paedophilia is a question that, effectively, can’t be understood “without seeing the spirit of evil there. I am a believer, and Jesus taught that the devil is like that.”
He also said that the Church acts as Mother with abusers, who punishes but, at the same time, doesn’t forget that that person is her son. “A mother “does punish, tolerates, but he [the offender] continues being a son. And the Church must punish, she must give serious punishments — we all agree on that.”
At the end of the interview, the Holy Father talks with the Mexican journalist about the recent visit of two Chinese Bishops, one of the underground Church and the other of the so-called national [Patriotic] Church. “Recognized now as brothers, they came here to visit us. That’s a good step. They know they must be good patriots and look after the Catholic flock,” he said.
The Pontiff also points out the path of rapprochement, which is already underway with this Asian nation in the cultural and educational fields, with the Vatican’s Pavilion opened in China and the acceptance of Catholic Professors in the University.