“Today Was Very Emotional For Me, I felt Like Crying”

“Today Was Very Emotional For Me, I felt Like Crying”

In a conversation with journalists on board the flight from Lesbos to Rome, Francis said: “The 12 Syrian Muslims we’re bringing back to Rome all have their papers in order.” In Europe “ghettos” are back but “we need to integrate. Still, I understand those who have certain fears”. And he added: “I would invite arms traffickers to spend a day in that refugee camp. I think it would do them good”. About his brief exchange with Sanders this morning, he said: “If someone thinks greeting someone means getting mixed up in politics, I suggest they see a psychiatrist”

 

“First of all, I want to thank you for the work you did today. This was a very emotional day for me, very emotional indeed…” Pope Francis was visibly moved before the interview on board the flight from Lesbos to Rome. “There is no political speculation because I am not fully informed about the agreements between Greece and Turkey, I have read about them in the newspapers. My visit was motivated by humanitarian purposes.” R egarding the three Syrian Muslim refugee families, Francis said: “A collaborator came up with the idea about a week ago, and I immediately accepted because I could see it was the Spirit speaking. All documents are in order: the Vatican City State as well as the Italian and Greek States have given their goa head. The agreement was reached by the Vatican in collaboration with the Community of Sant’Egidio. They will be the Vatican’s guests and will join the other two families that are already being hosted in Vatican parishes.”

“I didn’t choose between Christians and Muslims, these three families had their papers in order and it was possible to do. There were two Christian families whose papers were not in order… There are no privileges here, everyone is a child of God. Regarding integration, you used a word, which in today’s post-war culture seems to have been forgotten: ghettos exist today! And some of the terrorists who carried out attacks are children and grandchildren of people who were born in the country in question, in Europe. What happened? There was no integration policy and I believe this is fundamental. If you look in the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the family, there is a bit about the integration of families with difficulties. Europe needs to recover this ability to integrate, so many nomads have arrived here and have enriched its culture. Integration is necessary.”

There is talk of controls and reinforcements at Europe’s borders. Is this the end of Schengen and the European dream?

“I don’t know, but I can understand those who have certain fears. I understand this. We need to be very responsible in welcoming these people and one of the aspects of this is how we integrate them. I have always said that putting up walls is not a solution, last century we saw one fall… It resolves nothing. What we need to do is build bridges, but bridges need to be built in an intelligent way, through dialogue and integration. I understand people have some fears but closing the borders resolves nothing because in the long run, this closure harms Europe’s people and Europe needs to urgently implement policies of hospitality, integration, growth, employment and economic reform. All of these areas are “bridges” that will prevent us from building walls.”

The Pope then took a wad of drawings given to him by children at the refugee centre and said: “After what I saw, what you saw, in that refugee camp, I felt like crying. I brought some drawings with me to show you. What do children want? Peace. It’s true they follow educational courses in the camp but what have these children seen… Here is a drawing of a little boy drowning. They have this image in their hearts, today was really enough to move one to tears. One child drew a weeping sun. If the sun is able to cry then a tear or two would probably do us good.”

Why don’t you differentiate between those who flee war and those who flee hunger? Can Europe take in all the world’s misery?

“Today in my speech I said that some flee war and others hunger. Both are consequences of exploitation. Exploitation of the land: a head of government in Africa told me that the first decision his government took regarded reforestation, because the land was ruined because of forest exploitation. Good initiatives need to be taken both for those who flee war and those fleeing hunger. I would invite arms traffickers – in Syria for example, those who give arms to different groups – to speand a day in that refugee camp. I think it would do them good.”

This morning, you said this was a sad and moving visit. But something has changed because there are now 12 people on board, a small gesture in the face of others who turn the other way…

“I’m going to plagiarise here and use a phrase that is not mine. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was once asked: why all this effort and work just to accompany people to their graves? To which she responded: it is a drop of water in the sea but after this drop, the sea will no longer be the same. It is a small gesture but all of us men and women need to make small gestures to lend a hand to those in need.”

We came to a country of immigration where there is also an economic policy of austerity in force: Do you have an austerity-oriented economic approach?

“The word austerity has several different meanings: in economic terms it means a chapter of a programme, in political terms it means something else and in spiritual terms something else still. When I talk about austerity I mean it in relation to waste. I heard the FAO say that all the food that is wasted could put an end to world hunger. How must waste to we create in our homes unintentionally! This is the culture of throwing away and of wastefulness. I speak of austerity in a Christian sense.”

This morning, you met the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Did you wish to get involved in US politics?

“This morning, as I was leaving, I saw senator Sanders who had come for the “Centesimus Annus” conference. He knew I would be going out at that time and was kind enough to come and greet me, along with his wife and another couple who were staying at St. Martha’s House, like all the other conference’s participants. I greeted him and shook his hand, nothing more. This is being polite, not meddling in politics. If someone thinks greeting someone means getting mixed up in politics, I suggest they see a psychiatrist”.

I would like to ask a question about the “Amoris Laetitia” exhortation: as you are well aware, one of the points has been hotly debated: some claim that nothing has changed with regard to sacraments for remarried divorcees, while others say a great deal has changed and that further leeway has been granted. Are there new concrete possibilities or not?

“I can say there are. But it would be too short an answer. I urge you to read the presentation Cardinal Schönborn gave on the document. He is a great theologian and has worked in the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith.”

Why did you include the reference to access to the sacraments in a footnote and not in the main body of the text?

“Listen, speaking about the Council, one of the recent Popes said there were two Councils, Vatican II, in St. Peter’s and the one described in the media. When I convened my first Synod, the media’s main concern was whether remarried divorcees would be able to participate in communion. Since I am not a saint, I was a bit irritated and saddened by this. Because those media outlets do not realise that that is not the key problem. The family is facing a crisis, young people no longer want to get married, the declining birth rates in Europe are enough to make one’s heart bleed, there is unemployment, children grow up alone… These are the big problems we face. I don’t recall that footnote but if it’s in a footnote that’s because it is a quote from the “Evangelii Gaudium” .

 

Source: VaticanInsider

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