Pope Francis has interviewed the editors of the American Journal of the Jesuits on topics including war, abortion, the role of women in the Church and the agreement with China. Regarding the war in Ukraine, the Pope said: the Holy See is happy to mediate for peace.
(Vatican News Network) The editor-in-chief and several editors of the “American Magazine” founded by the American Jesuits interviewed Pope Francis on November 22 at the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. They talked about a wide range of topics, including War, abortion, sexual assault, the role of women in the church, and the Vatican’s relationship with China.
The issue of abortion has been politicized in the United States. The Pope stated that any book on embryology says that the embryo has formed organs and DNA, the building blocks of genes, less than a month after conception. In other words, a person is formed. Here the Pope asks two questions: Is it right to kill a person in order to solve a problem? Is it appropriate to hire a killer to solve the problem?
“The problem,” the pope said, “is that this reality of killing people turns into a political issue, or when the pastor of the Church enters a political sphere”. However, “we should not ignore pastoral work”. “A bishop is a shepherd and a diocese is the faithful and holy people of God with its shepherd. We must not treat abortion as a political issue”.
Regarding sexual abuse, the Pope said Catholic priests accounted for 3% of the overall statistics on this crime. Some people may be thankful that there are not many people, but “violation against minors is a heinous crime.” The choice made by the church is “not to hide”. As a result, “face the matter through the judicial process and through the establishment of the Holy See Committee for the Protection of Children”.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, the Pope said, “When I speak of Ukraine, I speak of a martyred people”. The pope explained that he went to the Russian embassy in the Holy See the day after the war broke out, a rare gesture for the pope. The Pope asked the ambassador to tell Putin that he would be willing to come as long as a small window was opened for negotiations. Foreign Minister Lavrov replied with a very polite letter, “This letter made me understand that it was not necessary at that time.”
The Pope said he had two phone calls with President Zelenskiy. He also plans to go to Moscow and Kyiv, “not just one place”. “I never gave the impression that I was covering up an assault.” The Pope mentioned that several cardinals have been to Ukraine: Cardinal Cherny went twice; Archbishop Gallagher stayed in Ukraine for 4 days; Full of aid supplies. In conclusion, “the position of the Holy See is to seek peace and consensus. The Holy See’s diplomacy is working in this direction and, of course, it is always willing to mediate”.
Many women suffer from not being able to be priests. Regarding this question, the Pope pointed out that in the life of the Church there is a ministry dimension, an ecclesiastical dimension and a governance dimension. So here are 3 principles, the first two are of a theological nature, management is not. We call breadth of office the Peter principle, but the church cannot function solely on this principle. The Church is the Spouse, it is feminine, we call it the Marian principle.
“Why can’t women be ordained?” said the pope, because “the Peter principle does not provide space for this”. “I would like to emphasize two theological principles, the Peter principle and the Mary principle, which form the Church. In this sense, the exclusion of women from priesthood life is not a deprivation, no. Women The position of women is more important, we must still strengthen the position of women in the path of Marian principles”.
The bishop appointment agreement signed with China has been criticized. Some in the church and in politics say silence on human rights in China is paying a huge price. The Pope replied that it was “not a question of speaking or not speaking. That is not the case. The real question is dialogue or not dialogue. Dialogue as much as possible”. The Pope mentioned a figure in the modern phase of the Church: Cardinal Agostino Casaroli.
In his book “The Martyrdom of Patience”, the cardinal describes his work in Eastern Europe. During the Cold War during the communist era, Popes Paul VI and John XXIII sent him to Central European countries to rebuild relations. The cardinal gradually dialogued with the governments there and did what he could, slowly being able to re-establish the Catholic hierarchy in those countries.
“The situation that comes to mind is that it is not always possible to appoint the best person as archbishop of a major city, but it is possible to appoint someone who has reached an agreement with the government. Dialogue is therefore the best diplomatic path,” said the Pope. .I chose the path of dialogue with China. This is slow, there are rebounds, and there are achievements, but I can’t find another way. What I want to emphasize is: the Chinese people are very intelligent people, and they deserve my respect and admiration.”
The pope went on to say that he tried to talk, “because we are not going to conquer a people, no. There are Christians there, and they need our attention in order to be good Chinese and good Christians”.
The Pope mentioned another beautiful story of Cardinal Casarolli. He used to go to the juvenile correctional center to visit teenagers on weekends, which was his apostolic work. During his last meeting with Pope John XXIII, he reported on the progress of the negotiations with Central European countries and how to bring Cardinal Minzhendi, who was in the US embassy in Budapest, to Rome. When leaving, John XXIII asked Cardinal Casaroli to greet the young people in the penitentiary, saying that he would not abandon them.
Pope Francis lamented: “In the hearts of these two great men, visiting teenagers in prison was as important as establishing relationships with Prague, Budapest or Vienna. They were great people. These things reflect the whole face of the human being.”
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