The following is a transcript of words that Pope spoke off the cuff this afternoon, during the 15th General Congregation at the end of the prayer:

“Good afternoon, I would like to say a word about the pachamama statues that were removed from the Church at Traspontina, which were there without idolatrous intentions and were thrown into the Tiber.

“First of all, this happened in Rome and, as bishop of the diocese, I ask pardon of the people who were offended by this act.

“Then, I can inform you that the statues which created so much media clamor were found in the Tiber. The statues are not damaged.

“The Commander of the Carabinieri [Italian police] wished to inform us of the retrieval before the news becomes public. At the moment the news is confidential, and the statues are being kept in the office of the Commander of the Italian Carabinieri.

“The leadership of the Carabinieri will be very happy to follow any indication given on the method of making the news public, and regarding the other initiatives desired in its regard — for example, the commander said, ‘the display of the statues at the closing Mass of the Synod.’ We’ll see.  

“I delegate the Secretary of State to respond to this.

“This is good news, thank you.”