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Photo of Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti

Six Years of Pontificate: Alessandro Gisotti Highlights the Pope’s Courage and Serenity

“What Is Essential for Francis . . . Is the Conversion of Hearts”

Six years after Pope Francis’ election (March 13, 2013), the Director “ad interim” of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, comments on this pontificate in an interview with “Vatican News,” on March 12, 2019. Gisotti stresses the Pope’s “courage” and “serenity”, for whom “what is essential . . . is the conversion of hearts.”

He focuses especially on “the heart of the pontificate”: the homilies of the morning Masses at Saint Martha’s Residence. In fact, “the Pope meets the People of God there.” His homilies “are an extraordinary deposit, because if one then goes to see the great documents of the pontificate, one notes that they often take up the homilies of Saint Martha, or that they are directly inspired” by them.

Alessandro Gisotti sketches the important traits of the pontificate, such as “dialogue” and the “culture of encounter,” which the Pope “puts into practice first of all with the theme of friendship.” And, to mention his meeting at Abu Dhabi “with the Grand Imam Al Tayyeb”: “I truly saw also that both of them looked at one another in their proximity, conscious that the signing of the common Declaration on Human Fraternity was a prophetic and courageous gesture.”

“It’s never a dialogue with a specific finality, but it’s a dialogue born of encounter,” he remarks. He also points out a constant of the pontificate: attention to migrants who “are persons and not numbers.”

Don’t Let Yourself Be Seized by Bitterness”

Alessandro Gisotti also talks about the recent summit at the Vatican for the Protection of Minors. “The Pope gave proof of courage and also, in my opinion, of a prophetic courage, because for the first time — in face of a terrible scandal that puts in danger not only the credibility but in certain aspects the very mission of the Church — he wished to convoked all the Presidents of the Episcopates . . . It’s necessary to give a global answer to a global problem.”

In regard to the “concrete measures,” he mentions the “forthcoming publication of a Motu Proprio, the publication of a Vademecum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a whole series of regulations, as well as task force initiatives,” namely, of experts that can aid the Episcopal Conferences to implement an activity for the protection of minors.” “For Francis, what is essential . . . is the conversion of hearts, which is born from listening to the victims.”

The Vatican’s spokesman paid tribute to the Pope as a man of peace. “Francis really does honor the name he bears.” Gisotti confides that he is particularly touched by Francis’ “serenity.” “We are living and we can’t hide it — the Pope himself doesn’t hide it — a very delicate moment, in particular, precisely because of the terrible scandal of abuses. However, despite his great awareness and also his courage to address the situation, Francis doesn’t lose his calm, his serenity. And truly — also on seeing him in private moments it has touched me to see him pray up close – one truly sees a man of peace. It’s a peace that, evidently, doesn’t come from the world but that comes from God.”

“Also, regarding me, this is the case, not having been an easy moment, because my appointment came at a totally unexpected moment, at a moment of objective daily difficulties, the Pope has said to me personally, on several occasions: ‘Don’t let yourself be seized by bitterness, stay serene.’”

About Anne Kurian

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