Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Sunday, 12 March 2023
Pope Francis: I dream of a more pastoral, more open Church
In an interview with the Argentinean daily “La Nación,” the Pope says the Church is following the path laid out by the Second Vatican Council so that it can become ever more a home for all. He also discusses the ongoing Synod, as well as the Holy See’s work for peace in Ukraine. :

There is one thing that has made the Pope particularly happy in recent years: “Everything that concerns the pastoral line of forgiveness and understanding people. Giving everyone a place in the Church.” That is what Pope Francis told Elisabetta Piqué, a journalist for the Argentine daily La Nación, in a new interview given at Casa Santa Marta for the 10th anniversary of his election on 13 March.


A church with open doors


His dream is to open doors.


“Open doors, that's what I really want. To open doors and walk paths.”


And the Church he envisions for the coming years is a Church that is “more pastoral, more just, more open” along the lines traced out by the Second Vatican Council.


“We must travel this path. Now, the concreteness of this is difficult.”


The interviewer underlined the fact that Pope Francis is concerned especially for the “lost sheep” and that this attitude has troubled some Catholics, as happened with the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son: “It always happens,” said the Pope. “A keyword of Jesus is ‘all.’ For me, this is the key to pastoral openness. Everybody inside the house. There’s a bit of commotion, but everyone inside the house.”


Of course, he emphasized, there is resistance and opposition to change. Jesus, too, “faced a lot of opposition.” But it is necessary to act in the “freedom of the Holy Spirit” and to seek God’s will. Pope Francis spoke of the formation of future priests and indicated the need for a review of seminaries.


The reforms

On the question regarding reforms, Pope Francis noted that “the dicasteries have been reorganized and the College of Cardinals itself is now freer.” On the economic front, he paid tribute to Cardinal Pell, who helped him set the economic reform in motion. “I am very grateful to him,” the Pope said. Now, he added, “the Secretariat for the Economy is helping me a lot in this regard. Before there was Father Guerrero, who in three and a half years systematized things, and now there is a layman, Maximino Caballero.”

On the conversion of the papacy mentioned in his programmatic document, Evangelii gaudium, he recalls what was done by Paul VI: “a great man, a saint”; by John Paul II, “the great evangelizer”; by John Paul I, "the pastor who was close, who wanted to put an end to certain things that were not going well”; and by Benedict, “a courageous man” who distinguished himself for the depth of his magisterium. Pope Benedict, he said, “was the first pope to officially address the issue of abuse."


The right to vote at the Synod

With regard to synodality, the Pope emphasized that it is an ongoing process. “About ten years ago there was serious reflection and a document was drawn up that I signed, together with the theologians.” This document stated, “This is the maximum we have reached, now something more is needed.” For example, it was accepted by all that women could not vote. “So, in the Synod for the Amazon, the question was asked, 'Why can't women vote? Are they second-class Christians?' ” Asked by the journalist if only one woman or all will vote now, the Pope replied: “All those who participate in the Synod will vote. Invited guests or observers will not vote. Anyone who participates in a Synod has the right to vote. Whether man or woman. Everyone, everyone. The word ‘everyone’ for me is fundamental.”


The dangers of gender ideology

Pope Francis then stated that he is not writing a new encyclical. In response to a question about whether he has been asked to write a document on the subject of gender, the Pope replied in the negative. On this topic, he reiterated that he “always makes a distinction between pastoral work with people of different sexual orientation” on the one hand, “and gender ideology. They are two different things," he said. "Gender ideology, at this time, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonisations. It goes beyond the sexual sphere. Why is it dangerous? Because it dilutes differences, and the richness of men and women and of all humanity is the tension of differences. It is growing through the tension of differences. The gender question dilutes differences and makes the world equal, all level, all the same. And this goes against the human vocation.”


The Holy See's work for peace in Ukraine

The interviewer then introduced the subject of Ukraine, asking the Pope if the massacres that are being carried out in this country can be defined as genocide. “It is certainly a technical word, genocide,” Pope Francis replied. “But it is obvious that when schools, hospitals, shelters are bombed, the impression is not so much that of occupying a place, but of destroying.... I don't know if this is genocide or not, it must be studied, it must be well defined by people, but it is certainly not a war ethic that we are accustomed to.”

The Pope added that the Vatican is acting at the moment through diplomatic channels, “to see if something can be achieved.” He then clarified that there is no “Vatican peace plan.” Rather, there is “a service of peace” that moves forward discreetly, with those who are open to dialogue, and in view of a meeting of world representatives on this issue: “The Vatican is working.”

Pope Francis then reiterated: “I am willing to go to Kyiv. I want to go to Kyiv. But on condition that I go to Moscow. I will go to both places or neither.” Asked if a trip to Moscow is impossible, he replied, “It is not impossible.... I am not saying it is possible. It’s not impossible. We hope to make it...there is no promise, nothing. I have not closed that door.”

"But has Putin closed it or not?" asked the interviewer. The Pope replied: “But maybe he gets distracted and opens it, I don't know.”

“War hurts me. That's what I want to say. War hurts me.”


A journey to Argentina!

Then the subject of a possible trip to Argentina was broached. The Pope repeated that he wants to go to Argentina and that it has not happened so far due to a series of reasons that have added up over time. “There has been no refusal to go, it was all happened that things got complicated...there were two years of pandemic that made us skip the trips that had to be made ... I want to go, I hope to go. I hope I can do it.” But, he added, “The salvation of the country will not come from my trip. I will gladly go, but think a little about the things that need to be done for the country to move forward.”


Knowing how to wait

Finally, responding to a question about errors made during these ten years of his pontificate, the Pope pointed to the cause of each error: impatience. “Sometimes the blood rises to my head. Then you lose patience, and when you lose peace, you slip and make mistakes. You have to know how to wait.”