English Translation of Second Part of Papal Press Conference

The second part of Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference given on the papal plane from Brazil has been published in English by ZENIT (see my blog post on the first part here).

This isn’t the official translation which is yet to appear, though the Secretariat of State is said to be working on it.

Like the first part, the Holy Father’s words are revelatory. As reported widely elsewhere, he discusses the subject of homosexuality and “gay lobbies”; his wish to visit Asia, and travel to Jerusalem where he hopes to meet Patriarch Bartholomew; his call for a “profound theology of woman”; John Paul II’s definitive “no” to women priests; the canonization date for John XXIII and John Paul II; and his desire for a review of "matrimonial ministry."

But he also makes some other interesting remarks which have gained less attention:

• He says that once a bishop, there is “always the danger of thinking oneself superior to others, not as others, somewhat as a prince. These are dangers and sins.” But he adds that the work of a bishop is a good thing and he likes it; the bishop, he says, helps the faithful to go forward and aids communion. Pressed if he likes being Pope, he replies that he does – “if you do what the Lord wants, you are happy,” he says. “This is my sentiment, what I feel.”

• He talks about his wish to be walking the streets but understands it’s not possible. He says he was a “street priest” in Buenos Aires.

• He recalls how he “couldn’t stand” the charismatic renewal movement in the 1970s and 1980s, saying at the time that they confused “a liturgical celebration with a samba school.” But he says he repented of this when he got to know them better, and believes that now the movement has done so much good for the Church. Charismatic movements are a “grace” he says that not only prevent Catholics from joining Pentecostal sects, but serve the Church and renew her.

• Pope Francis speaks effusively of Benedict XVI, saying: “I love him so much. I’ve always loved him,” and that his resignation was an “example of [his] greatness.” He says he was aware of concerns that his predecessor might “encumber him”, or make a “revolution” against him, but says instead Benedict is like a “wise grandfather” to him.  “When a grandfather is at home with a family, he is venerated, loved, listened to. He is a man of prudence! He doesn’t meddle,” he says, and reveals that he has telephoned Benedict when he has had a “difficulty or something I didn’t understand.” Again he repeats: “He [Benedict] is a great man, he is great!”

• In answer to another question, he insists his spirituality remains that of a Jesuit, not a Franciscan.

• Asked about the best and worst moments of being Pope so far, he highlights a recent meeting with Italian bishops at the end of their ad limina visit, his visit to Lampedusa (“something to weep about” but which “did me good”), his meetings with students of the Jesuit colleges, and his encounters with seminarians and women religious which was “very lovely.”  The worst thing: he had “very painful sciatic” in the first month after his election which he doesn't “wish on anyone!”

• What surprised him most? “The good people I’ve met…so many good people, so many good people, but good, good, good!”

• The Pope tells the reporters he misses Buenos Aires “at times” but that it is a “serene missing.”

• Asked about the Orthodox Churches, Pope Francis says they keep a “pristine liturgy, so beautiful” and that in contrast “we have lost a bit the sense of adoration.” God is at the center of the Orthodox Church, he affirms, and they have a “richness.” Consumerism has done us “much harm”, he says, adding: “so many times the ‘luxus’ of the West makes us lose the horizon.” He says we must all “read and reread” Dostoyevksy because “he has wisdom” and one can perceive “what the Russian spirit is.”