On his return flight to Rome, Pope Francis gave journalists an opportunity of a lifetime: an 80 minute no-holds-bar press conference where he answered all their questions. Vatican Insider posted on their website the complete text of the question and answer session with the Holy Father.
When asked by journalists regarding the current reforms of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), Pope Francis stated that he entrusts the work of both the IOR and the commission he created to study their inner workings. “I don’t know how [the study] will end,” the Pope said. “But certainly, whatever becomes of the IOR, transparency and honesty is needed.”
Pope Francis did not shy away from particularly sensitive subjects, including rumored reports of resistance within the Roman Curia and the recent arrest of a prelate, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano. The Holy Father stated that within the Curia there are many “saints”: bishops, priests and pay people, people that work. “There are many that go visit the poor in secret or in their free time go to any Church and exercise their ministry,” he said.
“Then there is someone that is not that much a saint and these cases create the rumors because, as you know, a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows. I am saddened when these things occur.” The Holy Father stated the case of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, who is currently under arrest as an example of this.
Msgr. Scarano was a senior accountant for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See who was arrested for an alleged attempt in embezzling money.
Journalists also asked questions that peaked the world’s curiosity. Many were taken aback when the Pope boarded his plane going and returning from Brazil carrying his own bag. When asked what was in his bag, the Pope answered: My razor, a breviary, my calendar and a book to read; I brought a book on Saint Therese, who I am very devoted to.” The Holy Father expressed his shock that many newspapers had focused on him carrying his own bag. “It’s normal to carry one’s back, we must be normal, we must get used to being normal,” he said.
“However, there was no key to the nuclear bomb in my bag,” the Pope said jokingly.
When asked why he always asks everyone he meets to “pray for him, Pope Francis said that it was something that he always asked. “When I was a priest, I didn’t ask as much, not that much. I began to ask for it more after I became a bishop. I feel that I have many limitations and many problems, I am also a sinner. This request comes from within me. I also ask the Blessed Mother to pray for me. It’s a habit that comes from the heart, I feel that I have to ask.”
Movements Are a ‘Grace of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Father spoke frankly on the importance of the new movements within the Church. When asked about the Charismatic Renewal, the Holy Father admitted that while at first he was skeptical, he later saw the grace of the Holy Spirit in them and in all the movements of the Church.
“Towards the late 70s and early 80s, I was not keen on them (the Charismatic Renewal). One time I said that they confused a liturgical celebration with a Samba dance school! But then I got to know them better, I converted, I saw how they worked and every year in Buenos Aires I celebrated Mass with them. I believe the movements are necessary, they are a grace of the Spirit. The Church is free, the Holy Spirit does what it wills.”
The Wisdom of Benedict XVI
Pope Francis also spoke on his relationship with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who he affectionately compared to as a “father” and likened Benedict XVI’s stay in the Vatican as having a wise grandfather at home.
“The last time there were two or three Popes together they did not talk to each other, instead they fought to see who was the true Pope. I wish so much well to Benedict XVI, he is a man of God, a humble man, a man who prays,” the Holy Father said.
“I was so happy when he was elected Pope, and later we saw his gesture of resigning…for me he is a great [man]. Now he lives in the Vatican and there are those who ask: “but doesn’t he encumber you? Does he go against you? No, for me its like having a wise grandfather at home. When there is a grandfather living with a family, he is venerated and listened to. Benedict XVI does not interfere. For me it’s like having a grandfather at home, he is my father. If I have a difficulty I can talk to him, like I did when there was that big problem with Vatileaks. “When he received the Cardinals on February 28th, he said: ‘The new Pope is among you to whom I promise from now on my obedience.’ He is a great man.”
‘Lobbies are Not Good’
Towards the end of the press conference, Vatican insider reported that the Holy Father was asked regarding a rumored “gay lobby” within the Vatican. “There is so much written about the ‘gay lobby’. I have to find someone in the Vatican who has ‘gay’ written on their ID card,” the Pope said. “Lobbies, all lobbies, are not good.”
“If a person is gay,” the Pope continued, “and he is searching for the Lord with good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that gay people should not be discriminated against but received. The problem is not about having these tendencies, the problem is to lobby it and this goes the same for business lobbies, political lobbies, and masonic lobbies.”
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For the full text, in Italian, of Vatican Insider’s report on the Pope’s press conference, go to: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/vaticano/dettaglio-articolo/articolo/gmg-26831/%26h%3D9AQHSVW2p%26s%3D1/pag/1/