Friday, 19 February 2016

Pope Francis: what did he really say on the plane?

As I post, a couple of aspects of Pope Francis' remarks to journalists during the flight home from his visit to Mexico are causing comment. An Italian transcription is here and, presumably, an English transcription will be posted in due course.

His "attack" on Donald Trump: the journalist's question explicitly referred to Donald Trump's campaign..... but in his answer, Pope Francis made the general observation that anyone who seeks to build walls between people, rather than to build bridges, is not a Christian, leaving the application to the particular situation of Donald Trump open to the judgement of others
E poi, una persona che pensa soltanto a fare muri, sia dove sia, e non a fare ponti, non è cristiana. Questo non è nel Vangelo. [Now, a person who thinks only of making walls, wherever that might be, and not making bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.]
Pope Francis' "approval" of the use of contraception to avoid pregnancy during the Zika virus crisis: in effect, there was an affirmation of the principle, already expressed in Humanae Vitae n.10, that for good reason a couple might seek to postpone the conception of children. There was no affirmation of artificial contraception as the means to achieve this. The question of "lesser evil" (a term used by the journalist asking the question, but not fully taken up by Pope Francis in his answer) is applicable in an extremely restricted way -  with regard to the principle of children as a good of marriage being in some way the subject of a counter-witness if conception is deliberately postponed - and the example of Pope Paul VI's dispensation for religious sisters is not applicable at all in the situation of the Zika virus. (I  think Austen Ivereigh's comment for Catholic Voices is seriously misleading in this regard, and, indeed, is not supported by the quotation of Pope Francis' words at the end of his post.) Pope Francis condemnation of abortion could not be stronger. Where abortion is to be seen as an absolute evil, always to be condemned (Pope Francis choice of word):
Invece, evitare la gravidanza non è un male assoluto, e in certi casi, come in quello che ho menzionato del Beato Paolo VI, era chiaro. Inoltre, io esorterei i medici che facciano di tutto per trovare i vaccini contro queste due zanzare che portano questo male: su questo si deve lavorare.. [Instead, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil, and in some cases, as in that I have mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, that was clear. However, I would encourage doctors to do everything to find vaccines against the two mosquitos that carry this illness: it is necessary to work on this ..]
The press conference is very wide ranging - there is a detailed answer to a question about the Church's response to abuse of minors by priests and the practice of Bishops just moving guilty priests from one parish to another (with a strong tribute to Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI's work on this matter), a discussion of relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches (in the context of some criticism of the joint statement with the Patriarch of Moscow) and a discussion of family situations (in the context of the Year of Mercy, and reaffirming the Church's rule with regard to Holy Communion for the re-married).

And there are a couple of points of humour:
Ma, grazie a Dio che ha detto che io sono politico, perché Aristotele definisce la persona umana come “animal politicus”: almeno sono persona umana! [But, I thank God that he (Donald Trump) has said that I am political, because Aristotle defines the human person as a "political animal": at least I am a human person!].....
Caroline Pigozzi di “Paris Match” 
Sì, Santo Padre, buona sera. Due cose. Volevo sapere cosa Lei ha chiesto poi alla Vergine di Guadalupe, perché è rimasto molto tempo nella chiesa a pregare la Vergine di Guadalupe. Poi, la seconda cosa, se Lei sogna in italiano o in spagnolo? [Yes, Holy Father, good evening. Two things. I wish to know what you asked of the Virgin of Guadelupe, because you remained a long time in the Church to pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Then, the second thing, do you dream in Italian or Spanish?] - this last a reference to an earlier reference in the press conference for Pope Francis' "dreams" in a quite different sense.
Papa Francesco
Sì, dirò che sogno in esperanto… Non so come rispondere a questo, davvero. Alcune volte sì, ricordo, qualche sogno in altra lingua, ma sognare in lingue no, con figure, sì. La mia psicologia è così. Con parole sogno poco . [Yes, I will say that I dream in Esperanto ... I do not know how to answer this, really. Sometimes yes, I remember a dream in a different language, but dreaming in languages, no, with images, yes. My psychology is like that. I dream very little with words.]

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