In a long interview published in the German weekly Die Zeit, Francis described himself as a “sinner” and “fallible. He also spoke about the "viri probati", "piecemeal World War", criticism and posters, and populism in Europe.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit, Pope Francis talked about his travel plans, the crisis of vocations and the viri probati, the piecemeal World War, criticisms and posters, and populism. He also described himself as "a sinner" and "fallible".
The Holy Father said that he is set to travel to India, Bangladesh, Colombia, and Fatima, adding that a visit to Egypt was in the planning stage. He noted that he would like to go to South Sudan, but is not certain that it can be done. The same goes for Russia, but a visit to Ukraine appears possible. A visit to the two Congos was also planned, but that to Kabila seems quite unlikely.
The crisis of vocations "is a big" and "serious problem," he noted. Where there are no priests there is no Eucharist and "a Church without the Eucharist has no strength: The Church makes the Eucharist, but the Eucharist makes the Church."
In his view, a shortage in priestly vocations is due to the lack of prayers. "The Lord told us to pray: so pray! This is what is missing, prayers. Working with young people looking for guidance is also missing." This is a difficult but necessary job to do because "young people want it’. What is more, “optional celibacy”, leaving it to free choice, "is not the solution."
With respect to married men of proven faith entrusted with certain priestly functions to address the scarcity of vocations, the pontiff said that “We need to consider whether the viri probati have a chance as well as determine what tasks they can take on, for example in isolated communities."
Speaking about himself, Francis noted that "I am not saying that I am a poor devil. I am a normal person, who does what he can. That is how I feel. [. . .] I am a sinner and fallible. We should not forget that the idealisation of people is a form of aggression. When I am idealised I feel attacked because idealisation does not let a person to be a fallible sinner."
When asked if he felt hurt by the attacks coming from the Vatican, Francis said No. "Since I was elected Pope I have not lost my peace [of mind]. I understand that someone might not like my way of doing things, but that is right by me. There are so many ways of thinking; they are legitimate. This is also human, an asset."
As for the posters in Roman dialect in which he is accused of not being merciful, the pontiff noted that the Roman used "was beautiful". However, it was "not written by someone ordinary,” but rather by a cultured person. Still, Francis did not like the fake front page of the Osservatore Romano devoted to the doubts "dubia" addressed to him by four cardinals.
On the Malta issue he said there were problems that Cardinal Burke " was perhaps unable to manage, because he was not the only protagonist." For this reason, he appointed a delegate to fix things, a person "with a charisma that Card Burke does not have". This said, the cardinal, the pope added, remains the patron of the Order.
Turning to the "piecemeal Third World War," he turned his thoughts to Africa, Ukraine, Asia, the tragedy in Iraq, "the poor people who have been driven out." This war is fought "with modern weapons and there is the structure of weapons manufacturers that helps this."
Today’s populisms worry him, at least those that he sees in Europe. Behind them he believes, there is always a form of “messianism”, always, and even a justification, that of preserving a people’s identity.
Instead, the great politicians of the post-war era in the old continent "imagined European unity". That “is not something populist”, but something based on a sense "of brotherhood for all Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals.”
“These were the great leaders - great leaders - who were able to pursue the good of the country without being themselves at the centre, without being a messiah. Populism is bad and eventually ends badly, as we know from last century."