The Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, published an interview with Pope Francis conducted by the paper’s co-founder, Eugenio Scalfari. The interview, which ran three pages long, took place at the Pope’s residence in Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Scalfari, who is atheist, jokingly began his interview saying that some of his colleagues told him that the Pope would try to convert him. “”Proselytism,” the Holy Father said, “is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us.”
“Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is criss-crossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”
Many of the topics raised by Scalfari related to the concepts of good and evil, agape r love for others, the common good. The co-founder of La Repubblica questioned Jesus’ call to love one’s neighbor as oneself, stating that “what many call narcissism is recognized as valid, positive, to the same extent as the other.”
“I don’t like the word narcissism, it indicates an excessive love for oneself and this is not good, it can produce serious damage not only to the soul of those affected but also in relationship with others, with the society in which one lives,” the Pope responded.
“The real trouble is that those most affected by this – which is actually a kind of mental disorder – are people who have a lot of power. Often bosses are narcissists”.
The Holy Father stated that at times, even leaders of the Church were narcissistic and “flattered by their courtiers.”
“The court is the leprosy of the papacy,” the Pope said.
When asked if he was referring to the Roman Curia, the Holy Father clarified that he was not.
“No, there are sometimes courtiers in the Curia, but the Curia as a whole is another thing. It is what in an army is called the quartermaster’s office, it manages the services that serve the Holy See. But it has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis went on to say that this “Vatican-centric” can neglect “the world around us. “I do not share this view and I’ll do everything I can to change it,” the Holy Father said.
“The Church is or should go back to being a community of God’s people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God. The Church is this, a word not surprisingly different from the Holy See, which has its own function, important but at the service of the Church.”
A Leavening of Life and Love
Scalfari asked for the Pope’s opinion regarding Christianity as a minority in today’s world. The Holy Father stated that while Christianity always has been the minority, it should not be considered a weakness but a strength.
“We have to be a leavening of life and love and the leavening is infinitely smaller than the mass of fruits, flowers and trees that are born out of it,” the Holy Father said.
“I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.”
Drawing from the Second Vatican Council, the 76 year old Pontiff went on to say that the Council Fathers that in order to be open to modern culture, religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. However, he noted, “very little was done in that direction.
“I have the humility and ambition to want to do something,” he added.
At the conclusion of the interview, Scalfari did not hide his admiration for Pope Francis. “If the Church becomes like [Pope Francis] and becomes what he wants it to be, it will be an epochal change,” Scalfari said.
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On the NET:
For the English translation of La Repubblica’s Interview with the Holy Father, go to: http://www.repubblica.it/cultura/2013/10/01/news/pope_s_conversation_with_scalfari_english-67643118/