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Friday, June 22, 2018

From Geneva to Rome

Yesterday evening, during the flight from Geneva to Rome at the conclusion of his Ecumenical Pilgrimage to that city, the Holy Father, Pope Francis met with journalists aboard the flight and held a Press Conference.


Transcription of the Press Conference
aboard the flight from Geneva to Rome

Greg Burke
Thank you, in the meanwhile.  Walking, praying, working together (Theme of the voyage).  We have walked, we have prayed, many times, and now we have do a bit of work - and also eat, afterwards.  However, we see that walking together bears fruit: today, hospitality.  We have seen that, after many years of dialogue, there is mutual respect and something more: there is also friendship.  But there is still much work to be done and many challenges, and this what normally interests us: the challenges.

Perhaps you wish to say something first ...

Pope Francis
Thank you for your work!  This has been a busy day, at least for me.  But I am happy.  I am happy because of the many things that we have done: prayer at the beginning, then dialogue during lunch, which was beautiful, and then the Mass ... these were things that made me happy.  They are tiring but they are good things.  Thank you very much.  And now, I am at your disposition.

Greg Burke
Good.  Let us begin with the Swiss:  Arnaud Bédat, from the magazine L'Illustre.

Arnaud Bédat
Holy Father, you were in Geneva but also in Switzerland.  What an image, what important moments, strong, did you feel this during the day?

Pope Francis
Thank you.  I believe that - I would say - there is one word in common: encounter.  It was a day of encounters.  Different meetings.  The right word for the day is encounter, and when a person encounters another person and feels pleasure in that encounter, this always touches the heart.  These were positive encounters, beautiful too, beginning with the dialogue with the President (of the Swiss Confederation), at the beginning, which was not only a courtesy dialogue, normal, but a profound dialogue, about profound worldly subjects and with an intelligence that struck me.  It started like that. Then, the meetings that you all saw ... And the one that you did not see was the lunchtime encounter, which was very deep and which touched on many different subjects.  Perhaps the point that we focused on most was youth, because all Confessions are also concerned about youth, in a good sense.  And the pre-Synod meeting that was held in Rome, from 19 March onward, drew a lot of attention, because there were young people from all Confessions in attendance, even agnostics, and from every country.  Think about it: 315 young people were present and 15,000 were connected via the net: they came and went.  Perhaps this awoke a special interest.  But the word that perhaps captures the spirit of this voyage is that this was a voyage of encounter.  The experience of encounter.  It was not a courtesy, nothing was purely formal, but it was a human encounter.  And this took place between Protestants and Catholics, and that says it all ... Thank you.

Greg Burke
Thank you, Holiness.  Now, from the German group, here is Roland Juchem, from the German Catholic Agency CIC.

Roland Juchem
Thank you, Holy Father.  You speak at times about concrete steps that can be made in the sphere of ecumenism.  Today, for example, you once again referred to this, saying: We will see what can be done concretely, rather than becoming discouraged about what we do not have.  So, the German Bishops, lately, decided to take a step (concerning the so-called inter-Communion), and we ask ourselves how it is that Archbishop Ladaria (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) had written a letter that seems a bit like a hurried answer to an emergency case.  Following the meeting held on 3 May of this year, it was affirmed that the German Bishops would have to find a solution, possibly even unanimously.  What will the next steps be?  Will it be necessary for the Vatican to intervene, in order to clarify, or is it up to the German Bishops to establish agreement?

Pope Francis
Good.  This is nothing new, because in the Code of Canon Law there is a provision for the situation that the German Bishops are facing:  Communion in special cases.  And they were looking at the problem of mixed marriages: if it is possible or not possible.  However, the Code says that the Bishop of a particular Church - this word is important: particular, that is to say of a diocese - should manage this case: it is in his hands.  This is in the Code.  The German Bishops though, saw that the case was not clear, and also that some priests were doing things that were not in agreement with their Bishops; they wanted to study this thee and they did study it - I don't want to exaggerate - but it was a study that lasted for more than a year, I am not sure but it lasted more than a year; it was well done, well done.  And the study was restricting: what the Bishops wanted was to say clearly what is written in the Code.  And I too, I read it, and I say: this is a restrictive document.  It was not open to everyone.  No.  It was something that was well thought out, with an ecumenical spirit.  And they wanted to do it for the local Church: not for the particular Church.  They didn't want to do that.  Things have progressed to that point, which is to say that it is up to the German Episcopal Conference.  And there is a problem, because the Code does not provide for this.  It provides for the competency of the Diocesan Bishop, but not that of the Episcopal Conference.  Why?  Because something that is approved by one Episcopal Conference, suddenly becomes universal.  And this is the difficulty with this decision: it is not so much a matter of the content, but this.

They sent the document; then there were two or three meetings for dialogue and clarifications; and Archbishop Ladaria sent that letter, but with my permission; he did not do it on his own.  I told him: Yes, it is better to take a step forward and to say that the document is not yet mature - this is what the letter said - and that we needed to study the case some more.  Then there was a another meeting, and in the end we agreed to study the matter.  I believe that this will be an orienting document, because every one of the Diocesan Bishops can take care of that which the Code of Canon Law regulates.  There was no hurry, no.  It is a matter of managing things so that they can progress along the right path.  When I visited the Lutheran church in Rome, there was a question about this and I replied according to the spirit of the Code of Canon Law, the spirit that they (the Bishops) are seeking now.  Perhaps there was some inappropriate information at an inopportune time, there is a bit of confusion, but this is the thing.  In the particular Church, the Code permits it, in the local Church, we cannot, because such decisions would have universal ramifications.

Roland Juchem
Is the local Church the Conference?

Pope Francis
... the Conference.  But the Conference can study and give orienting lines to help Bishops to manage particular cases.  Thank you.

Greg Burke
Now from the Spanish group, we have Eva Fernández from Cope, Spanish radio.

Eva Fernández
Thank you, Holy Father.  We have seen that even the General Secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Churches spoke about helping refugees.  Lately, we have seen the incident concerning the Aquarius ship and other cases, including the separation of families in the United States.  Do you think that some governments may be exploiting the situation of refugees?  Thank you.

Pope Francis
I have spoken a lot about refugees and the criteria are found in what I have said: hospitality, protection, promotion, integration.  These are criteria for all refugees.  Then, i said that every country should do this with the virtue of governing that is prudent, because a country should welcome as many refugees as it can and as many as it can integrate: integrate, which means to educate them and give them work ... This, I would say, is the quiet and serene part of refugees.  Here, we are experiencing an inundation of refugees who are fleeing from war and from famine.  War and famine in so many countries in Africa, war and persecution in the Middle East.  Italy and Greece have been generous in welcoming them.  For the Middle East - I look to Syria - Turkey has received so many of them; Lebanon too, many: Lebanon has so many Syrians and so many who are Lebanese; and then Jordan, and other countries.  Even Spain has welcomed many of them.  There is a problem of trafficking in migrants.  And there is also the problem of the homes to which they will return, because they should return: there is this case ... I don't know all the terms of agreement, but if they are in Lybian waters, they have to go back ... and there, I saw a photograph of prisons and traffickers.

Human traffickers immediately separate women from men: women and children go God knows where ... That's what human traffickers do.  There is also a case, I know of, in which the traffickers approached a ship that had received refugees from other boats and they told them: Give us the women and children and take the men away.  That's what traffickers do.  And those who have been captured by human traffickers, for those who are returned, they are terrible, they are in terrible shape.  These are situations that were seen in World War II.  Even mutilations and tortures ... And then they threw the men into common graves.

This is why governments worry that they will not come back, that they will fall into the hands of these people.  This is a world-wide problem.  I know that governments are speaking about this and that they want to find agreement, even to modify the Dublin Accord.  In Spain, you have had the case of this ship that has docked at Valencia.  But all of this phenomenon is a disorder.  The problem of war is difficult to resolve; the problem of the persecution of Christians too, in the Middle East and also in Nigeria.  But the problem of hunger, we can solve that one.  Many European governments are thinking about an emergency plan for investing in these countries, investing intelligently, to provide work and eduction, these two things.  In countries where these people come from.  Because - without wanting to offend, but it is the truth - in the unconscious collective, there is an ugly motto: Africa must be exploited - Africa es para ser explotada.  This is in the unconscious: Eh, they are Africans! ...  The land of slaves.  And this has to change with the level of investments, education, development, because the African people have so many cultural resources, many.  And they have great intelligence: the children are very intelligent and they can, with good education, they can go forward.  This will be the mid-term path.  But for the moment, we need to establish agreements between the governments in order to advance in dealing with this emergency.  This one, here in Europe.

Let's go to America.  In America, there is a major problem with migration, in Latin America, and there is also a problem with interior migration.  In my country, there is a problem with migration from the north to the south; the people are leaving their own lands because there is no work and they are going into large cities, and there are these metropolitan areas, and shanty towns, and all those things ... But there is also an external migration toward other countries who can provide work.  Speaking concretely, toward the United States.  I am in agreement with what the Bishops of that country are saying.  I support them.  Thank you.

Greg Burke
Thank you, Holiness.  Now, the English group: Deborah Castellano Lubov, from Zenit.

Deborah Castellano Lubov
Thank you, Holiness.  Holiness, in your speech today at the Ecumenical Meeting, you made reference to te enormous strength of the gospel.  We know that some of the Churches within the World Council of Churches are considered to be Churches of peace, who believe that a Christian cannot use violence.  Let us remember that two years ago, at the Vatican, there was a conference organized to reconsider the doctrine of just war.  So, Your Holiness, my question is whether you think that there may be a case for the Catholic Church to unite with so-called Churches of peace and that the theory of just war should be put aside.  Thank you.

Pope Francis
A clarification: why do you say that there are Churches of peace?

Deborah Castellano Lubov
They are considered to be Churches of peace because they have this concept, that a person who uses violence can no longer be considered a Christian.

Pope Francis
Thank you, now I understand.  You put your finger in the wound ... Today, at lunch, a Pastor said that perhaps the first human right is the right to hope, and I liked this, it returns a bit to the theme.  We spoke about crises of human rights today.  I believe that I should begin with this in order to arrive at your question.  The crises of human rights appear to be clear.  There is a little talk about human rights, but many groups or some countries take their distance.  Yes, we have human rights, but ... we don't have the strength, the enthusiasm, the conviction that we had ... I wouldn't say 70 years ago, but maybe 20 years ago.  And this is serious, because we should see things.  What are the reasons why we have ended up like this?  Today, we have relative human rights.  Even the right to peace is relative.  It is a crisis of human rights.  I think we have to think about this very deeply.

Then, the so-called Churches of peace.  I believe that all Churches that have this spirit of peace should unite and work together, like we said in the speeches today, either I or the other persons who spoke, and at lunch we spoke again about it.  Unity for peace.  Today peace is a necessity, because there is risk of war ... Someone said: this third world war, if it happens, we know which weapons will be used, but, if there should be a fourth, it will be fought with sticks because humanity will have been destroyed.  The commitment to peace is something serious.

If we think about the money that is spent on arms!  This is the reason why we need Churches of peace: but this is the Lord's mandate!  Peace, fraternity, united humanity ... And all these conflicts, we don't need to resolve things like Cain did, but we should resolve them with negotiation, with dialogue, with mediation.  For example, we are in a crisis of mediation!  Mediation, which is a juridical term that is very precious, is in crisis today.  A crisis of hope, a crisis of human rights, a crisis of mediation, a crisis of peace.  But then, if you say that there are Churches of peace, I ask myself: are there Churches of war?  It 's difficult to understand, it's difficult, but there are certainly some groups, and I would say in almost all religions, small groups, a little simplified or even fundamentalist, who seek war.  We Catholics too have some of them, who are always seeking to destroy.  This is very important to have before our eyes.  I don't know if I have replied ...

They tell me that the people are calling us for supper, that the food will just have enough time to reach our stomachs ....

I just want to say one word very clearly: that today was an ecumenical day, truly ecumenical.  At lunch we said something beautiful, that I want to leave with you to think about and to reflect on so that you can give it good consideration: in the ecumenical movement, we have to cut one word out of the dictionary: proselytism.  It is clear?  We cannot exercise ecumenism with proselytism, we need to choose: either there is an ecumenical spirit, or there is a spirit of proselytism.

Thank you.  I would continue speaking, because I like to speak, but ...

And now, let us bring forward the Substitute (of the Secretariat of State) because this is the final voyage that he will make with us, because now he is changing his colour (he will become a Cardinal on June 29): but don't be shy!  We want to say goodbye and there will be a Sardinian cake to celebrate.

His Excellency, Giovanni Angelo Becciu
Thank you.  This is a double surprise, calling me here and thanking me in front of you.  And then a Sardinian cake ... good!, I accept with pleasure.  I truly thank the Holy Father for this opportunity, bt for everything, for everything, because he allowed me to have this magnificent experience of travelling so much with him.  At the beginning, he scared me, he said: No, I make very few trips, do you remember?  And then, after one there was always another, and another, and we said to one another: Thank God he only said there would be a few; there have been so many.  A magnificent experience: to see the Holy Father courageously defending the word of God.  My service was only this: to help him in this.  Thank you to all of you and to all those who have helped him.  Thank you.

Pope Francis
Bon apetit, enjoy your dinner and thank you very much.  And pray for me, please.  Thank you.
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