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Comprehensive interview with Pope Francis is published

This interview with Pope Francis took place over the course of three meetings during August 2013 in Rome. The interview was conducted in person by Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal. Father Spadaro conducted the interview on behalf of La Civiltà Cattolica, America and several other major Jesuit journals around the world.
The editorial teams at each of the journals prepared questions and sent them to Father Spadaro, who then consolidated and organized them. The interview was conducted in Italian. After the Italian text was officially approved, America commissioned a team of five independent experts to translate it into English. America is solely responsible for the accuracy of this translation.
This interview is copyrighted by America Press and cannot be used, except for brief quotations, without written permission.
You can read the interview here

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  1. Tony Burke says:

    Have just read this remarkable interview. Tony Flannery take heart.
    Veritas and Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference take note!

  2. I echo Tony @1. I have just finished reading these extraordinary words of Pope Francis. As I read it, Fr Tony’s reflections, opinions,and searchings were before me. And yes I hope he and Frs Sean, Brian , Jose, and the many others can take heart.
    However, I believe these encouraging words of Pope Francis will need to be converted into actions if these great men are to survive in the ministry which they clearly love.

  3. Eugene Sheehan says:

    AHHHH! The sound of windows being re-opened?

  4. Con Devree says:

    Despite differences in style the areas of continuity between Benedict and Francis are becoming more apparent. Like Francis Benedict always believed that truth and love depend on each other. Both believe that faith can be hampered by moralism. Francis emphasises the mercy of God. In 2006 Benedict wrote “What a strange attitude it is that we no longer find Christian service worthwhile if the denarius of salvation may be obtained even without it.” Both are well versed in the arts and agree in the fundamental requirement for the Church to interact with the broader culture. Both say that you can only teach those whom you are willing to understand but disagree with the corollary that you can understand only those whose position you are willing to share. Both believe that Christianity will be victorious (as distinct from triumphalist) because of its recognition that God is love. Both emphasise the need for joy in the faith. The general catechetical principle of both is that the way of knowledge that leads to God and to Christ is a way of living. Both are “sons of the Church.” Neither believes in “pure reason” but agrees that the teaching of the church must consolidate over the years, develop over time, deepen with age. Both have emphasised that the first reform in the Church must be the attitude (spiritual). “Organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward.” Both make distinctions between hope and optimism. And so on.

  5. Tom Morgan says:

    Full of hope. Pregnant with insight. In parts, I thought I was reading Owen O’Sullivan. Parts for which he was silenced. It would be a wonderful new beginning if we could honour our place and time and if the American and Spanish and Curial Churches left Ireland and went home to honour theirs. One can only hope that the so-called ‘Visitation’ is dead in the water.

  6. Seamus Ahearne osa says:

    I’m confused! If the name of the interviewee was removed; I could imagine the ‘words and sentiments of the interview’ coming directly from the Constitution (aims and objectives) of the ACP. I wonder is Francis a ‘quiet’ and ‘secret member’ of the ACP? I think his tune would harmonise with much if not most of what Tony Flannery might say. It all sounds like the poetry of a pastor and how many of us try to work out in the parishes and with the ‘wonderful’ and ‘extraordinary’ people we meet every day. I suggest there should be a rush of ‘pastors’ and even ‘pastoral bishops’ who might now want to join us.
    Seamus Ahearne osa

  7. Con Devree #5 lists important areas of continuity with his predecessor in what we have seen of Pope Francis so far. I don’t agree, however, that the discontinuities are mere matters of style. In the present pope’s entire manner of relating and speaking there is a clear ceasefire in Pope Benedict’s ‘war with intellectuals’ – that sophisticated and unrelenting concentration on the wrongness of philosophical relativism and materialism that so marked Ratzinger’s entire post-conciliar career.
    That is not to say, of course, that Francis capitulates to these errors. It is to suggest that Francis may not attribute to sceptical intellectuality the power to determine the future that Benedict appeared to do. It is to attribute to loving, rather than to knowing, the greater power that the church still latently has – and to invite the magisterium to follow his lead in simply dignifying the huge majority in all societies who wouldn’t know a relativist from a football manager. Over this huge majority philosophical scepticism exercises far less influence than many Christian intellectuals tend to assume – and I believe that Francis has learned that crucial fact in visiting the poorest. He wasn’t simply ‘being nice’ – he was learning also.
    Was he learning, for example, that the long experience of Christendom has seriously undermined the ability of secular clergy generally to notice in themselves the ‘status anxiety’ that will prevent them from easily following in his own pastoral footsteps? This critical human failing – originating in our tendency to be deeply unsure of our own personal value – is the root source of all social inequality and inequity. It’s called ‘worldliness’ in the Gospels. I don’t believe that Benedict ever identified it as a problem – the reason he was so undone by that very same flaw within the curia. And of course the fans of John Paul II tended to suppose that his making the cover of Time proved the total success of his ministry. I am fairly confident, but prayerful also, that Francis will not make that mistake.
    To prioritise the dignifying of the ordinary person is far more than a matter of style. It is to take a deeply considered decision to do exactly what Jesus did. There is an entire change of intellectual emphasis and focus – from sophisticated verbal analysis aimed at retaking the intellectual high ground, to the direct discovery of the interiority of those whom the church seeks to lead to the Lord. That’s not just a change of ‘style’ – it’s potentially an intellectual and ecclesiological revolution also.

  8. Sean (Derry) says:

    So the media would have us believe that Pope Francis is about to change Church doctrine on abortion, women priests and gay marriage etc. As if it were possible for a Pope (even if he wanted to) to change the law of God.
    However within 24 hours of all this ‘excitement’ the Pope reaffirms the Church’s opposition to abortion at meeting with gynaecologists, and Greg Reynolds, dissident priest, Australia is excommunicated over his support for women priests and gay marriage (among other things).
    Shock Horror!! It seems that the Pope is Catholic.

  9. RTE radio have been conducting interviews – some with people who welcome the pope’s words and others with the hard men of dogmatic theology who say “nothing has changed”. In fact the church appointments during the regime of the two previous popes has ensured that key jobs were largely filled by functionaries without imagination. They can be relied on to ensure that nothing will change, as far as they are concerned.

  10. The hurricane season is not over after all and the wind blowing from the Vatican is having a world wide effect. Who would have dared to imagine a few months back that we would have heard such pastoral honesty coming from Rome ? The Church is a people in Communion, listening to one another, responding to one another and to the good Lord, for that is surely what Francis is doing. Courageous conversations are at last taking place.

  11. Con Devree says:

    Sean O’Conaill # 8 makes a serious point. Each pope has a different way of living out the charism entrusted to him. God’s mercy on sinners seems to be the key to Francis’s exercise of the Petrine ministry. This represents no great change from John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who spoke frequently of the mercy of God and the reality of sin. Francis sees those to whom the Church is called to minister as deeply wounded, underscoring his profound sense of sin as grave and real and killing souls. Benedict taught us that the truth is a person, Jesus Christ, with whom we enter into a relationship of love. Francis tells us that, beginning with himself, we are sinners who have found mercy to enjoy this relationship. No condemnation but advice not to sin again.
    Francis’s phrase “You are a sinner, and the Lord has looked upon you with mercy” is the heart of the gospel, all other aspects of Catholic truth presuppose and proceed from it. All the controversial parts of the faith can only be understood in light of this fundamental truth. During and before his papacy, Benedict repeated this again and again. The heart of the gospel must be understood so that the moral teachings can be understood. For instance, the teaching of the church on matters of sexual ethics is clear, Francis says, and he wants to be clear that he upholds it. He regards John Paul II and Benedict XVI as having consolidated it.
    There is no doubt that something is different with Francis. He mostly says what his predecessors said, but makes it sound different. “Followers” of Benedict find Francis complements Benedict, but is more direct in the manner of challenge and encouragement, and more “afflicting” in the case of sharing goods with the poor. So far at least he seems to attract positive response from some whom Benedict did not. Some of course are waiting for him to say the improbable. Perhaps he is a prophet, while Benedict and JPII were teachers whose work now enables him to be the prophet, not as revising, but as describing more clearly the spirit that animates that teaching. It’s basically the same tune, played in different keys.
    In his letter to Dr. Scalfari of La Repubblica Francis wrote: “one of the principle objectives of the Second Vatican Council was this dialogue [with the culture], as desired by Blessed John XXIII and successive Popes, each adding his own insight and contribution, walking the path marked out by the Council.” Benedict saw the process in terms of the human dignity of “contemporary man in his reality and in his world [interiority?], taken as it is” – the Church proposing to people with free will having the freedom to accept or reject. The proposal had to make distinctions in terms of the “wrongness of philosophical relativism and materialism”, if for no other reason than that since Vatican II there have been theological circles which postulate that Catholics should embrace the theoretical presuppositions of secular liberalism. The faith-love- reason interdependence postulated by Benedict also necessitated making an impact on the “intellectual high ground.” As Archbishop, Francis challenged varying aspects of the culture. Can he ignore the increasing incidences in the “First World” of abuse of conscience rights and religious freedom, of infanticide and abortion and euthanasia?
    Benedict didn’t attribute “skeptical intellectuality [with] the power to determine the future.” He is far more comprehensive on this issue than space permits here. In page 151 “A Turning Point for Europe” he writes that “Israel’s growing forgetfulness of God” and egoistical understanding of freedom drove it to an inner decadence that ended once again in the loss of freedom. (JG 2; 11-23). Freedom is very demanding; it does not keep itself alive and it ceases to exist precisely when it attempts to be boundless… History shows again and again the truth of Jesus’ image that in place of one impure spirit who is driven out seven worse spirits come when they find the house empty and swept out (Mt 12;43-45).” (Francis has already made references to the Devil). Consequently Benedict does not offer a new theory on the relationship between the state and moral truth. There is no theologically neutral state which is the good which the liberal tradition claims to offer. He reiterates the advice of Jeremiah to the Jews exiled in Babylon to seek the welfare of the city where God has placed them while refusing to reduce Catholicism to a mere ‘booth in the fairground of post-modernity.’ Francis would agree.

  12. Linda, Derry says:

    I think Pope Francis may perhaps be doing so well, thank God, because he maybe has very holy, dedicated prayer support in Pope Benedict. A wee team of two brother Popes, together giving witness to different aspects necessary for the ‘second evangelisation’..teaching, preaching (Francis) and prayer and suffering/illness (Benedict). 🙂

  13. Tony Burke says:

    I leave a comment as a musician (with an interest in Theology) – the Chinese philosopher Mencius is often quoted as saying “If the King loves music all is well in the kingdom”. Pope Francis reveals in his interview his love for Mozart, Bach and Beethoven – so here is yet another reason among the many for hope , and as Francis quotes from the Letter to the Romans “hope does not disappoint”.

  14. Joe O'Leary says:

    Paul VI and Benedict XVI were also intensely musical. Pius XII heard the first half of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius sung by Our Lady’s Choral Society a few days before he died. He said to the conductor, Barbirolli, “Figlio mio, questo e un capolavore sublime.”http://www.overgrownpath.com/2008/05/gerontius-that-is-sublime-masterpiece.html

  15. SOLINE, I really doubt if Mary.E.Hunt’s vision for the Church is where the Pope is leading us ! She has the right measure of audacity to be sure but she bypasses the CCC and even the NT so absolute is her relativism. According to her no one has the right to pass any judgment on the moral choices of any woman ( presumably she would extend the same latitude to men) so there is no sin unless we care to self-define our actions as such. Remember the Pope has form in that he opposed with great vigour both same sex marriage and abortion while Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He did say in his interview that we should not ONLY speak of abortion, homosexuality and contraception. People of liberal leaning seemed to have overlooked the ‘ only’. He said in a little quoted comment from the interview that it is equally wrong for a pastor to be too lax: to let people only ” with the commandment” is too “rigorous”, to tell them “there is no sin” is equally wrong. That said, there is some change in the Pope’s pastoral approach, something radical I think. Maybe it is something to do with our overly high moral expectations as an insititution for people in the area of sexual morality and our more benign and understanding approach to all other sins? HAd the Pope said ” if a terrorist comes to me with good will and seeking God, who am I to judge him ?” would there be such a to-do?

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