VIDEO of INTERVIEW with Pope Francis on Flight to Rome - Pope Warns EU Not to be Vehicle of "ideological colonisation" by Removing Christmas
Good morning Holiness! Good morning and thank you for having guided us in these intense days, also to touch what you called "wounds". And thanks also for this space, to be able to talk about it together. Thanks.
Good morning and thank you! I was afraid this wouldn't work because of the delay, but it shows it works. Thanks a lot and I listen to your questions.
Thanks Holiness. The first question comes from Constandinos Tzindas of Cypriot television.
Constandinos Tzindas of Cypriot television (in ING)
Your Holiness, thank you for the opportunity and for your visit to Cyprus and Greece. Your Holiness, your strong remarks on interreligious [ecumenical] dialogue in both Cyprus and Greece have aroused stimulating expectations at the international level. They say apologizing is the hardest thing to do. She did it spectacularly. But what, in practice, is the Vatican planning to bring together Catholic and Orthodox Christianity? Is a Synod scheduled?
Being synodal is the substance of Christianity, which originates from the Trinity and which results in the common voice of the Church in the world. As is now proven, only a united Church in a globalized and dehumanized environment can truly be effective. St. John Chrysostom, as you said, is an example of the osmosis between Greek thought and Christianity; he affirmed that "in human terms the Church is clergy and laity, while for God we are all his flock".
Together with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, you have appealed to all Christians to celebrate in 2025 the 17 centuries since the first Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea. What are the steps forward in this process?
And finally - sorry for this long question, but it is in the spirit of your journey - a vision was expressed recently in the EU: we have replaced "Merry Christmas" with "happy holidays". Why don't people realize that Christianity is not an ideology but a life experience that aims to take men from mortal time to eternity? So I exist because my partner can also exist. It is the we and not the me. Thank you very much Holiness.
Yes please. I apologized, I apologized in front of Ieronymos, my brother Ieronymos. I apologized for all the divisions that exist among Christians, but above all for those that we Catholics have caused. I also wanted to apologize, looking at the war of independence. Ieronymos had taught me something: that a part of the Catholics sided with the European governments to prevent Greek independence; on the other hand, in the islands, the Catholics of the islands supported independence, went to war, some gave their lives for their homeland. But the center - let's put it this way - at that moment was aligned with Europe ... And also apologizing for the scandal of the division, at least for what we are to blame. The spirit of self-sufficiency. We close our mouths when we feel we have to apologize, but it always does me good to think that God never tires of forgiving, never. We are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness, and when we do not ask God for forgiveness, we will hardly ask our brothers. It is more difficult to ask forgiveness from a brother than from God, because we know that He says: "Yes, go, go, you are forgiven". Instead, with the brothers, there is shame and humiliation… But in today's world we need the attitude of humiliation and of apologizing. So many things are happening in the world, so many lost lives, so many wars… How can we not apologize? “Yes, go, go, you are forgiven”. Instead, with the brothers, there is shame and humiliation… But in today's world we need the attitude of humiliation and of apologizing. So many things are happening in the world, so many lost lives, so many wars… How can we not apologize? “Yes, go, go, you are forgiven”. Instead, with the brothers, there is shame and humiliation… But in today's world we need the attitude of humiliation and of apologizing. So many things are happening in the world, so many lost lives, so many wars… How can we not apologize?
Returning to this, I wanted to apologize for the divisions, at least for the ones we have caused. For the others, it is the managers who have to do it, but for ours I apologize. And also for that episode of the war, where part of the Catholics had sided with the European government, and those of the islands went to war to defend ... I don't know if that's enough ...
And also one last excuse - this came from my heart -: for the scandal of the migrants' drama, for the scandal of so many lives drowned in the sea.
The second question was on the synodal aspect. He writes: "The Church is synthesis, in human terms the Church is clergy and laity while for God we are one flock".
Yes, we are one flock, it is true. And this division - clergy and laity - is a functional division, yes, of qualification, but there is a unity, a single flock. And the dynamic between the differences within the Church is synodality: that is, listening to one another, and going together. Syn odos : lead the way together. This is the meaning of synodality. Your Orthodox Churches, even the Eastern Catholic Churches, have preserved this. Instead the Latin Church had forgotten the Synod, and it was St. Paul VI who re-established the synodal journey 54, 56 years ago. And we are making a journey to have the habit of synodality, of walking together.
The last question, on the other hand, was about Christmas, in which he says: "Is it possible that we don't understand that Christianity is not an ideology, but a life experience?" They want to cancel ...
Ah, you are referring to the European Union document on Christmas ... This is an anachronism. Throughout history, many, many dictatorships have tried to do so. Think of Napoleon. Think of the Nazi dictatorship, the Communist one… It's a fashion of a watered down secularism, distilled water… But this is something that hasn't worked throughout history. This makes me think of one thing, speaking of the European Union, that I believe is necessary: the European Union must take in hand the ideals of the Founding Fathers, which were ideals of unity, of greatness, and be careful not to make room for ideological colonizations. This could lead to dividing countries and causing the European Union to fail. The European Union must respect each country as it is structured inside. The variety of countries, and not wanting to standardize. I believe he won't, it wasn't his intention, but be careful, because sometimes they come and throw projects like this and don't know what to do… No, each country has its own peculiarity, but each country is open to others. European Union: its sovereignty, the sovereignty of the brothers in a unity that respects the singularity of each country. And be careful not to be vehicles of ideological colonization. For this reason, that intervention on Christmas is an anachronism.
Thanks Holiness. The second - or third question, given these - comes from Iliana Magra, of Kathīmerinī: it is a Greek newspaper.
Iliana Magra, of Kathīmerinī in ING
Good morning, Holy Father, thank you for your visit to Greece. During your speech at the Presidential Palace in Athens, you spoke of the "retreat" of democracy in the world, and in particular in Europe ...
[translates to the Pope ...] He spoke of a democracy that is retreating, a democracy that is giving way, that is giving way ...
Could you tell us something about this, and can you tell us which countries you were referring to? And what would it say to far-right leaders and voters in Europe, who profess to be devout Christians, but at the same time promote undemocratic values and policies?
Yes, democracy is a treasure, a treasure of civilization, and it must be guarded, it must be guarded, and not only guarded by a higher entity, but guarded among the countries themselves: guard the democracy of others. Against democracy today I perhaps see two dangers. One is that of populisms, which are here, there, there, and are beginning to show their nails. And I think of a great populism of the last century: Nazism. Nazism was a populism which, defending national values - so he said - managed to annihilate democratic life, indeed, with the death of the people, to annihilate, to become a bloody dictatorship. Today I will say - because you asked about right-wing governments - to be careful that governments - I am not saying right and left governments, but something else -: that governments do not slide down this path of populism, of the so-called politically "populisms". Which have nothing to do with popularisms, which are the expression of peoples, free: the people who show themselves with their own identity, with their folklore, their values, their art, and keep themselves. Populism is one thing, popularism another. On the other hand, democracy weakens, enters a path of slow decline, when national values are sacrificed, they are watered down by going towards - let's say an ugly word, I don't want to say this but I can't find another - towards an "empire ”, A kind of supranational government. And this is something that must make us think. Nor to fall into populisms, where one appeals to the people, but it is not the people, it is the dictatorship proper to us and us others - think of Nazism -; nor fall into a watering down of their identities in an international government. There is a novel about this written in 1903. You will say that this Pope is antiquated in literature… Written by Benson, an English writer. This Mr. Benson wrote a novel which is called: "The Lord of the Earth ”or“ The Lord of the World ”- has the two titles -, which dreams of the future in an international government where, with economic measures, political measures, it governs all other countries. And when you give this government, this type of government - he explains - you lose freedom and try to make everyone equal. But this happens when there is a superpower that dictates cultural, economic and social behavior to other countries. Weakening of democracy, yes, due to the danger of populisms - which are not popularism, this is beautiful - and the danger of these references to international powers: economic, cultural references, whatever. I don't know, that's what comes to my mind, I'm not a political scientist, I speak for what it seems to me.
Thank you, Holiness. The third question comes from Manuel Schwartz of Dpa (Deutsche Presse-Agentur), the German news agency:
Manuel Schwartz, Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Holy Father, thank you first of all for letting us go with you on this important journey. Migration is a central theme not only in the Mediterranean, but also in other parts of Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, these days, with so many barbed threads, as you called them, and also with the Belarusian crisis. What do you expect from the countries of this area, for example from Poland and also from Russia, and then what do you expect from other important countries in Europe, for example Germany, where there will now be a new government after the era of Angela Merkel?
On those people who prevent migrations or who close borders - now it is fashionable, to build walls, to make barbed wire, even the string with concertinas(the coiled barbed wire), the Spaniards know what this means: it is usual to do these things to prevent access - the first thing I would say, if I had a ruler in front: "but think about the time you were a migrant and they would not let you in, when you wanted to escape from your land, and now you are building walls ”. This is good, because whoever builds walls loses the sense of history, of his own history, of when he was a slave to another country. Not everyone has this experience, but at least a large part of those who build walls have this experience: of having been slaves. You can tell me: "But governments have a duty to govern and if such a wave of migrants comes, it cannot be governed!". I will say this: every government must clearly say: "I can receive many", because the rulers know how much they are capable of receiving: it is their right, this is true. But migrants must be welcomed, accompanied, promoted and integrated. If a government cannot do this, it must enter into dialogue with others and that others, each one, take care. And this is why the European Union is important, because the European Union is capable of creating harmony between all governments for the distribution of migrants. But, you think of Cyprus, think of Greece, think of Lampedusa, think of Sicily: migrants come and there is no harmony between all the countries of the European Union to send these here, these there, these there ... this general harmony. he must enter into dialogue with others and that others take care, each one. And this is why the European Union is important, because the European Union is capable of creating harmony between all governments for the distribution of migrants. But, you think of Cyprus, think of Greece, think of Lampedusa, think of Sicily: migrants come and there is no harmony between all the countries of the European Union to send these here, these there, these there ... this general harmony. he must enter into dialogue with others and that others take care, each one. And this is why the European Union is important, because the European Union is capable of creating harmony between all governments for the distribution of migrants. But, you think of Cyprus, think of Greece, think of Lampedusa, think of Sicily: migrants come and there is no harmony between all the countries of the European Union to send these here, these there, these there ... this general harmony.
Besides, the last word I said is integrated, no? They must be welcomed, accompanied, promoted and integrated. Integrated, why? Because if you don't integrate the migrant, this migrant will have a ghetto citizenship. The example - I don't know if I said it once on the plane - the example that strikes me most is the tragedy of Zaventem: the boys who carried out the massacre at the airport were Belgians, but children of ghettoized migrants , not integrated. If you do not integrate a migrant - with education, with work, with the care of the migrant - you risk having a guerrilla, one who does these things to you. It is not easy to welcome migrants, it is not easy to solve the problem of migrants; but if we do not solve the problem of migrants, we risk wrecking civilization. Today, in Europe, as things stand. Not only are migrants shipwrecked in the Mediterranean, but our civilization. This is why the representatives of European governments must come to an agreement. For me, a model - in its time - of integration, welcome and integration, was Sweden, which welcomed all the Latin American migrants of military dictatorships - Chilean, Argentine, Uruguayan, Brazilian -, welcomed them and integrated them . And today I went to a school, in Athens, and I looked and said to the translator: "But look, here there is - I used a familiar word - there is a" fruit salad "of cultures, they are all mixed up!". And he replied: "This is the future of Greece". The integration. Grow in integration. It's important. which welcomed all the Latin American migrants of military dictatorships - Chilean, Argentine, Uruguayan, Brazilian -, welcomed them and integrated them. And today I went to a school, in Athens, and I looked and said to the translator: "But look, here there is - I used a familiar word - there is a" fruit salad "of cultures, they are all mixed up!". And he replied: "This is the future of Greece". The integration. Grow in integration. It's important. which welcomed all the Latin American migrants of military dictatorships - Chilean, Argentine, Uruguayan, Brazilian -, welcomed them and integrated them. And today I went to a school, in Athens, and I looked and said to the translator: "But look, here there is - I used a familiar word - there is a" fruit salad "of cultures, they are all mixed up!". And he replied: "This is the future of Greece". The integration. Grow in integration. It's important.
And then another drama, I would like to underline it: when migrants, before coming, fall into the hands of traffickers who take away all the money they have and take them to the boat. When they are sent back [rejected], these traffickers take them. In the Dicastery for Migrants [Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development - Migrants and Refugees Section] there are videos of what happens in those places where returning migrants go. Just as they cannot be welcomed and abandoned, because we have to accompany them, promote and integrate them, so if I send back a migrant I have to accompany him, promote him and integrate him in his country, not leave him on the Libyan coast. This is cruelty. If you want more on this, ask the Migration Department which has these videos. And there is also a film - you know it for sure - about the "Open Arms", which is a bit romantic but shows the reality of those who drown. This is painful. But let's risk civilization, let's risk civilization!
Thank you, Holiness. And now a question from French-speaking journalists: Doctor Cécile Chambraud from Le Monde will ask the next question.
Cécile Chambraud from Le Monde (in Spanish)
Holy Father, I ask the question in Spanish for colleagues. On Thursday, when we arrived in Nicosia, we learned that you had accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, Msgr. Aupetit. Can you explain why, and why in such a hurry? The second question: through the work of an independent commission on sexual abuse, the Bishops' Conference of France has recognized that the Church has an institutional responsibility for the suffering of thousands of victims. There is also talk of a systemic dimension of this violence. What do you think of this declaration by the French bishops? What significance can it have for the universal Church? And, last question: Will you receive the members of this independent commission?
I start with the second, then we go back to the first. When doing these studies, we must be careful in the interpretations, which are done for sectors of time. When it is done over such a long time, there is the risk of confusing the way of feeling the problem of one era, 70 years before the other. I would just like to say this, as a principle. A historical situation must be interpreted with the hermeneutics of the time, not with ours. For example, slavery: we say "it is brutality". The abuses of 100 years ago or 70 years ago, we say "it's brutality". But the way they lived it is not the same as today: there was another hermeneutic. For example, in the case of abuses in the Church, covering, which is the way that is used - unfortunately - in families, even today, in the large number of families, in neighborhoods, to try to cover, we say "no, this is not right, we have to find out". But always interpreting an epoch with the hermeneutics of the epoch and not with ours. This is the first thing. For example, the famous Indianapolis studio: that fell for lack of a right interpretation. They were real things, some, some not; epochs were mixed. At this point, sectorizing helps.
On the shapeless [the report]: I have not read it, I have listened to the comments of the French Bishops. No, I don't know how to answer, really. The French Bishops will come now, this month, and I will ask them to explain it to me.
And the first question, on the Aupetit case. I wonder: what did Aupetit do that was so serious that it had to resign? What did he do? Someone answer me ...
I do not know. I do not know.
If we don't know the accusation, we can't convict. What was the accusation? Who knows? [no one answers] It's bad!
A government problem [of the diocese] or something else, we don't know.
Before answering I will say: do the investigation. Do the investigation. Because there is a danger of saying: “He was condemned”. But who condemned him? "Public opinion, chatter ...". But what did he do? "We do not know. Something…". If you know why, say so. On the contrary, I cannot answer. And you will not know why, because it was a lack of him, a lack against the sixth commandment, but not total but of small caresses and massages that he gave: so is the accusation. This is a sin, but it is not one of the gravest sins, because sins of the flesh are not the gravest. The most serious sins are those that have the most "angelicity ": pride, hatred ... these are more serious. Thus, Aupetit is a sinner as I am. I don't know if you feel that way, but maybe… like Peter was, the bishop on whom Christ founded the Church. Why had the community of that time accepted a sinful bishop? And that was with sins with so much "angelicity", as it was to deny Christ, right? But it was a normal Church, she was used to always feeling sinful, everyone: it was a humble Church. We see that our Church is not used to having a sinful bishop, and we pretend to say "he is a saint, my bishop". No, this is Little Red Riding Hood. We are all sinners. But when the chatter grows and grows and grows and takes away a person's good reputation, that man will not be able to rule, because he has lost his fame, not because of his sin - which is sin, like Peter's, like mine, like yours: it's a sin! -, but for the chatter of the people responsible for telling things. A man whose fame has been taken away so publicly cannot rule. And this is an injustice. For this, I accepted Aupetit's resignationnot on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy. This I mean. Thanks.
Thank you, Holiness. Maybe we still have a few minutes for one last question? From Vera Shcherbakova, from Tass.
Ah! Good! Alexei Bulgakov's "successor" ... he was good ...
Yes, and I miss it a lot; I miss him a lot, I always say that. Thank you very much, Holy Father, for your attitude towards our Bulgakov who is a heritage of Russia and our agency. But I wanted to ask the following: You, on this trip, saw the heads of the Orthodox Churches, you said beautiful words about communion and reunification. So when is your next meeting with Patriarch Kirill? What are the common projects with the Russian Church? And what difficulties, perhaps, do you encounter in this process of rapprochement? Thanks.
Thanks. That's a good question!
The meeting with Patriarch Kirill is in the near future. I believe that next week Hilarion will come to me to arrange a possible meeting, because the Patriarch has to travel - I don't know where he is going… he goes to Finland, but I'm not sure. I am always willing, I am also willing to go to Moscow: there are no protocols to talk to a brother. Brother is brother, first of all protocols. And I with the Orthodox brother - who is called Kirill, who is called Chrysostomos, who is called Ieronymos, is a brother - we are brothers and we say things to each other. We don't dance the minuet, no, we say things to our faces. But as brothers. It is beautiful to see brothers arguing: it is beautiful, because they belong to the same Mother, the Mother Church, but they are a little divided, some because of the inheritance, the other for the history that has divided them… But we must go together and try to work and walk in unity and for unity. I am grateful to Ieronymos, to Chrysostomos, to all the Patriarchs who have this desire to walk together. Unity ... The great Orthodox theologian Zizioulas is studying eschatology, and jokingly once said that we will find unity ineschaton, there will be unity. But it is a way of saying. This does not mean that we have to sit still waiting for the theologians to come to an agreement, no. This is a phrase, a way of saying, it is what they say Athenagoras said to Paul VI: “Let's put all the theologians on one island and we go together somewhere else”. It's a joke. But the theologians, who continue to study, because this is good for us and leads us to understand well and to find unity. But in the meantime, we move forward together. "But how?" Yes, praying together, doing charity together. For example, I am thinking of Sweden, which has Lutheran-Catholic Caritas together. Working together, right? Working together and praying together: we can do this. The rest, let the theologians do it, that we do not understand how to do it. But do this: unity begins today, along this path.
Thank you, Holiness. Thank you for taking the time to devote to our questions as well. I think that more or less we are also there with the times of the lunch.
Thanks a lot, and have a nice lunch!
Some journalists wanted to give you a copy of the Acropolis of Athens, of the Parthenon, because they were sorry that you could not touch it with your hand.
Yes, there was a danger that I would leave without seeing it [the Parthenon] and last night I said: "No, I want to see it!". They took me there, I saw it from afar, illuminated: at least I saw it. I didn't touch it, but I said: "thank you for this kindness".