Full Text of Pope Francis’ In-Flight News Conference From Madagascar

Pope Francis speaks aboard the papal plane from Madagascar to Rome Sept. 10. (Edward Pentin photo)

The Holy Father answered questions Sept. 10 from journalists on his way home to Rome.

VATICAN CITY — Please read below for CNA’s full transcript of the Pope’s Sept. 10 in-flight news conference from Antananarivo, Madagascar to Rome:

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office: Good morning, Holy Father. In these days we have been able to meet many people from these African lands of the Indian Ocean. They are a population with many young people, many children and babies — people full of enthusiasm and hope; people full of enthusiasm and real hope because of the young people. We were also able to see many wounds. You touched them with your hand and in your speeches. And with the journalists we have seen many signs of resurrection and reconciliation and peace. The journalists, your companions on the trip, have followed the events of these days intensely and have brought the stories to the world, the faces and also the themes that they encountered, helping to put Mozambique and Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius, a little bit at the center of international attention. I thank them, the journalists, for their work, done with passion and effort, and I will now pass the word to them for some questions that they wish to ask you. First of all, to the journalists that come from the countries we were in.

Pope Francis: First of all, I want to thank the group: Thank you.

Bruni: The first journalist who asks a question is Julio Manjate of Noticias del Mozambico.

Julio Mateus Manjate (Noticias del Mozambico): Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of journalists from Mozambique who accompanied the Pope. During the trip in Mozambique, you were able to speak with the president of Mozambique and met the leaders of the two parties that are in parliament. I would like to know what expectations you have after this meeting in relation to the peace process and what message you would like to leave with Mozambique. And I would like to ask for two comments: on the xenophobia of Africa and on the youth, the impact that social networks have on the education of young people.

Pope Francis: The first point is on the peace process. Today Mozambique is identified with the long peace process that has had its ups and downs, but, in the end, succeeded in that historic embrace. I hope this continues, and I pray for this. I invite everyone to make an effort to help this peace process go forward — because everything is lost by war, everything is earned by peace, one of my predecessors said. This motto is clear. Do not forget it. It was a very long peace process because it had a first step, then a fall, then another, and the efforts of the leaders of the opposing parties — not to mention enemies — to go and find each other was also a dangerous effort in which some risked their lives, but, in the end, we arrived.

I would like to thank all the people who helped in this peace process from the beginning, from the first who began in a cafe. It began in a cafe where people spoke with a priest from the Sant’Egidio movement, who will be made a cardinal on Oct. 5. [Editor’s note: He refers here to Cardinal-elect Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna]. Then, with the help of so many, also in the Sant’Egidio movement, this result arrived.

We must not be triumphalists in these things. The triumph is peace. We have no right to be triumphalist because peace is still fragile in your country, as in the world. It is fragile and it must be treated “with brushstrokes,” as with children, with much tenderness, with great delicacy, with much forgiveness, with much patience, to make it grow and be robust. But it is the triumph of the country; peace is the victory of the country. We need to identify this. And this applies to all the countries that are destroyed by war. Wars destroy, and all is lost. I stretch myself a little on this subject of peace because it is close to my heart.

When there was the celebration a few months ago of the Normandy landings, it is true, there were the heads of governments commemorating the beginning of the end of a cruel war and of an inhumane and cruel dictatorship like Nazism and Fascism. But on that beach there were 46,000 soldiers, the price of war. I confess that when I went to the Redipuglia [War Memorial] for the First World War to see this, I cried. Please, never again war. When I went to Anzio to celebrate All Souls’ Day, my heart felt like this. We must work with this consciousness: Wars do not solve anything. Indeed, they make earnings for people who do not value humanity.  Excuse me for this addendum, but I had to say it before a peace process, which I pray will continue and I hope remains strong. The second was …

Manjate: What do you think about the problem of the education of youth in Africa?

Pope Francis: The problem of youth: Africa is a young continent; it has young life. If we make a comparison with Europe, as I said to Strasbourg, Mother Europe is almost becoming Grandmother Europe; it is aging. We are living a very serious demographic winter in Europe. I don’t know in which country, but it is an official statistic of the government of that country: In 2050 in that country there will be more people in retirement than people working. This is tragic. How does it come about? What is the origin of this aging Europe?

I have a personal opinion: I think that affluence is the root, sticking to affluence. (Yes, but we’re fine. I don’t have children because I have to buy a house, I have to travel, this, that; a child is a risk, you never know… affluence and tranquility, but it is an affluence that leads you to grow old.)

Instead, Africa is full of life. In Africa, I found a gesture that I found in the Philippines and in Cartagena in Colombia: The people lifted up the children; they show you the children. “This is my treasure, this is my victory, my pride.” It is the treasure of the poor, the child. But it is the treasure of the fatherland. The same gesture I saw in Eastern Europe, in Iasi [Romania], above all that grandmother that showed me the child — “this is my triumph.”

You have the challenge to educate these young people and to make laws for these young people. Education in this moment is a priority in your country; it is a priority. It is a priority to develop educational laws.

The prime minister of Mauritius told me that he was thinking about the challenge of developing a free education system for all. A free education system is important, because there are education centers of a high level, but for a price. There are free education centers, but it is necessary to multiply them so that education can reach everyone. The laws on health and education are key right now there.

The third thing, xenophobia. I read about this problem of xenophobia in the newspapers. But it is not only an African problem, it is a human sickness, like the measles. It is a sickness, it comes to you, enters a country, enters a continent. And we put up walls. And the walls isolate those that build them. Yes, they leave outside many people, but those who remain inside the walls remain alone and, at the end of the story, defeated by powerful invasions.

But xenophobia is a sickness: a “justifiable” sickness, in quotation marks. But that it is: the purity of the race, for example, to name a xenophobia of the last century. Xenophobia many times rides on, as is said, political populism. I said last week, or the other, that sometimes I hear speeches in some places that sound like those of Hitler in 1934. We see that there is a refrain in Europe, but also in Africa.

Also, in Africa, you have another cultural problem that you should resolve. I remember that I spoke about it in Kenya: tribalism. There is need for education, for approach among the different tribes to make a nation. A little while ago, we marked the 25th anniversary of the tragedy in Rwanda, an effect of tribalism. I remember in Kenya, in the stadium, when I asked everyone to stand up, to take a hand, and to say, ‘No to tribalism; no to tribalism.” We should say No.

This is also a closedness and even xenophobia, a domestic xenophobia, but it is yet a xenophobia. You should fight against this: both the xenophobia of one country against another and to internal xenophobia and, in the case of some places in Africa, to tribalism that leads us to the Rwandan tragedy, for example.

Bruni: The second question comes from Ms. Ratoarivelo of Madagascar.

Marie Fredeline Ratovoarivelo (Radio Don Bosco, Madagascar): Your Holiness, you spoke about the future of young people during your apostolic visit. I think the founding of a family tends to arrive later. Currently in Madagascar, many young people live in a very complex family: Because of poverty, parents are very busy, [indistinguishable] young people, [indistinguishable] family values. How can the Church help to accompany young people in familial crises, because they think [the reason] is today’s sexual revolution? Thank you, Holy Father.

Pope Francis: Yes, the family is certainly the key in this … in the education of children. The expression of the young people is touching. We saw it in Madagascar and also in Mauritius, and even the young people on the side of Mozambique; the interreligious youth for peace. To give values to the young. To help them grow. … In Madagascar it is connected to the problem of the family; it is connected to the problem of poverty: the lack of work and also exploitation, often at work. How many impediments there are, for example, in the granite quarries, those who work and earn a dollar and even half a dollar a day. The labor laws, the laws that protect the family, this is fundamental. And also family values, which are there, but many times are destroyed by poverty. … Values aren’t destroyed … but there can be an absence there. The education of young people, take them forward.

In Akamasoa … we saw what in Akamasoa … working with the youngest children that they are bringing … to make a family so that the children can grow in an artificial [makes quotes gesture] family, really, but it was the only possibility, wasn’t it?

Yesterday in Mauritius, after Mass, when I was leaving, I found Msgr. Rueda with a tall, big policeman who was holding in his arms a little girl, 2 years old, more or less. She was lost and crying because they couldn’t find her parents. The police announced that they would come and in that moment they were holding her. … And there I saw the tragedy of many children and young people that lose family ties; although they live in a family, they lose them for a moment — this by an accident, only… and also the role of the state to accommodate them, to carry them forward. The state should take care of the family, young people; this is a duty of the state, right? It is a duty to carry them forward.

And then, I repeat: For a family to have a child is a treasure, and you have this awareness. You are aware of the treasure. But now it is necessary that all of society has the awareness to develop this treasure, so that the country develops, the fatherland develops, the values that give sovereignty to the fatherland develop. I don’t know if I have responded before but … it was a thing about the children that has touched me in all three countries. And that the people were greeting me. But there were children like that [gestures], little ones, and they even greeted me. They entered into the joy. On joy I would like to speak later; thank you.

Bruni: The third question comes from Mr. Mutusami of Mauritius:

Jean Luc Mootoosamy (Radio One, Mauritius): I want to thank you. My question is on the Chagos Islands’ situation. You mentioned the people of Chagos in a message of thanks. The prime minister thanked you for remembering the suffering of the Chagos population, those of the islands occupied by Great Britain. Today it is an active military base. How can we help the Chagos to return?

Pope Francis: I would like to repeat the doctrine of the Church, that international organizations, when we understand, we give them the ability to judge internationally. We think for example to the international court of AJA, and many times also the United Nations, when they speak. If we are a humanity, we should obey. It is true that things do not always seem right for all humanity, they are right for our pockets; but you should obey international institutions, the United Nations was created for this. The international courts were created [for this]. Because when there is an internal flight between countries it should be resolved as civilized brothers. Then there is another phenomenon — I speak clearly — but I don’t know if it is a phenomenon in this case.

Now I will leave aside this case; I said that which seems right to me, to go to the international organizations. But there is another phenomenon: When the liberation of a people arrives and the dominant state should leave Africa, there are many freeings, from France, from Great Britain, from Belgium, from Italy, and they had to leave. Some went well, but in all of them there is always the temptation to carry something in their pockets: Yes, I give freedom to this people but some crumbs I carry.

For example, I give freedom to the country, but from the floor up, the subsoil remains mine. To give you an example, I do not know if it is true, but to give an example … there is always this temptation. I believe that the international organizations must also carry out an accompanying process, recognizing what the dominant powers have done for that country and recognizing the willingness to leave, and helping them to go totally, with freedom, with brotherhood. But it is humanity’s slow cultural work; and in this the international institutions help us a lot, always, and we must go on, making the international institutions strong, the United Nations that resumes, that the European Union will be stronger not in the sense of domination, but in the sense of justice, brotherhood and unity. This is one of the important things, but there is something else I would like to take this moment to say.

Yes, today there is no more geographic colonization, at least not so much, there is not … but there are ideological colonizations that want to enter into the culture of the people and change that culture and homogenize humanity. It is the image of globalization as a sphere: Everyone equal, every point equidistant from the center. Instead, true globalization is not a sphere, it is a polyhedron, where every people and nation conserves their very identity, but is united to all humanity, while ideological colonization searches to cancel the identity of others to make them equal. And they come with ideological propositions that go against the nature of that people, against the history of that people and against the values of that people. We should respect the identity of people, and this is a premise to respect always: The identity of the people must be respected, and thus we banish all colonization.

Before giving the word to EFE, that is the favored [news agency] of this trip (it is old, 80 years), I would like to say another thing, which I would like to say about the trip.

In your country [Mauritius], the capacity for unity and interreligious dialogue really touched me. You cannot erase the difference of religions, but you emphasize that we are all brothers and all should speak. This is a sign of the maturity of your country. Speaking with the prime minister yesterday I was amazed by how they have developed this reality, but they live it as a necessity of living together. And there is an intercultural commission you gather.

An anecdote: The first thing that I found yesterday, entering the chancery, was a bunch of beautiful flowers. Who sent them? The grand imam. To be brothers. The human brotherhood that is at the base and respects all believers. Religious respect is important. For this, to missionaries, I say: Do not proselytize. Proselytizing applies to politics, to sports — “come on my team,” but not to faith.

But what does it mean for you, Pope? What does evangelization mean? It is a phrase of St. Francis that has illuminated me a lot. St. Francis of Assisi said to his brothers: “Preach the Gospel; if necessary, also with words.” That is, to evangelize is that which we read in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Witness. And that witness provokes questions. But why do you live like this? Why do you do this? And I explain to them: for the Gospel. The proclamation comes after the testimony: first to live as a Christian, and if they question you, you say it. Witness is the first step. The missionary is not the protagonist of evangelization; it is the Holy Spirit that allows Christians and missionaries to give a witness. Then questions come or they do not come. But a witness of life, this is the first step. It is important to avoid proselytism. When you see religious propositions that go the way of proselytism, they are not Christian. They look for proselytes, not adorers of God and truth, of witness. I use [this moment] to say this about your interreligious experience, that it is very beautiful, and also that the prime minister told me, when they ask for help for one, we give the same to all and no one is offended because they feel like brothers. And this creates unity in a country. It is very important, very, very important. Even at the meetings there were not only Catholics, but Muslims, Hindus, and other religions. Everyone was there, brothers.

I saw in Madagascar, somewhat, in the act of peace of the young people, that the youth of different religions wanted to express how they live the desire for peace: peace, fraternity, interreligious coexistence — no proselytism. They are things that we should learn for coexistence. This is a thing that I should say. Then, it touched me, and I made a reference.

And then, in your country and in the three countries, but I take one, Madagascar, because we started from there: the people. In the streets there was the people, self-convened. At Mass at the stadium, under the rain, there was the people. Dancing in the rain, they were happy, happy. I take that back [with me]. And even at the evening vigil and at the Mass that they say surpassed 1 million in attendance. So they say; the official statistics say this. I don’t know. I’d say a little less. We were 800,000. But I don’t care about the number. I care about the people, the people who went there on foot, from the afternoon before and were at the vigil and slept there. I thought of Rio de Janeiro in 2013, when people were sleeping on the beach, and I thought of the people. They wanted to be with the Pope. Truly I feel humbled, very small, before this greatness of the supremacy of the people. And what is the sign that a group of people is a people? The joy.

There were poor, there were people that had not eaten that afternoon, to be there, but they were joyous. Instead, when groups of people separate from that popular sense of joy, they lose joy; it is one of the first signs, the sadness, of the lonely — the sadness of whoever has forgotten their cultural roots. The people. Having the awareness of being a people is to have an awareness of an identity, of having a way of understanding reality. This brings people together. But the sign that you are among the people and not among the elite is joy: common joy. I wanted to emphasize this. And this is why the children greeted each other like this, because their parents infected them with joy. Thank you, this is what I wanted to say on this trip. Then if something else comes to me, I will tell you. Now, the favored one [Editor’s note: He refers here to Cristina Cabrejas of the Spanish news agency EFE].

Cristina Cabrejas (EFE): Thank you Holy Father for the opportunity. I have two questions. First of all, we take it for granted that one of your future plans includes a visit to Spain. I also wanted to ask you what you expect the news industry of the future will be.

Pope Francis: I would need a crystal ball to respond. I will certainly go to Spain, if I am still alive, I hope, but my priority in Europe are the smaller nations. This is the priority.

I don’t know what the news industry will be like in the future, but I think back to how it used to be when I was a child, for example, without a television, with radio and newspapers. … Even with clandestine newspapers that were banned by the government that was in power, newspapers would be sold at night with volunteers. And the passing on of news orally also existed, although compared to today’s news industry, it is seems very precarious, just like today’s may seem one day compared to that of the future.

That which remains, however … [Editor’s note: He begins speaking in Spanish] … what remains as a key point of the communications industry is the capacity to inform the audience of the occurrence of an event, and to distinguish these facts from interpretation. One of the things that damages communication is the interpretation of the past, the present and the future.   

There is a very interesting study, released three years ago by Simone Paganini, a scholar of languages of the university of … who speaks about the mobility of communications, of how a message changes, in a story. She takes a novel. There is the writer, the novel and the protagonist, and the situation mobilizes after that.

Because communication is always a “mobile” thing, it is extremely easy to move from the facts to interpretation. And this damages the news industry. It is important to stick to the facts, and one must always seek to adjust oneself toward the facts.

We too, in the Curia: When there is a fact, it is told, but it is embellished; everyone adds their own embellishment. Not with bad intentions, but that is the dynamic. So the mission of the journalist is to always stick to the facts: “The fact is this; my interpretation is this; I was told this.” It distinguishes you from the storyteller because interpretation is not good.

Once someone told me the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but from the point of view of an interpreter. So the story ended with Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother making a toast with the wolf. To sum it up: Interpretation changes the facts.

This study by Simone Paganini is quite good. These are considerations that concern every type of communication: fidelity to the facts.

“It is said that …” Can this be used? It can be used by journalists, but then we must also have the honesty to verify the objectivity of “it is said that” or do we not know whether it is said? Objectivity is another one of the values that must be guaranteed in communications.

Second thing: Communication must remain humane, totally humane. And when I say humane, I mean constructive. That is, it must be for the other. The news industry cannot be used as an instrument of war. This is inhumane; it destroys. The other day I commented with Father Rueda on an article on the destructive capacity of language, like drops of arsenic. Communication must serve construction and not destruction. When is communication at the service of destruction? When, for example, it defends inhumane projects. Think back, for example, about the propaganda of dictatorships of the past century. The dictatorships were very skilled in communication. We in Argentina say, “They sell in the center.” They fomented wars, divisions; they were destructive. I don’t know technically what to tell you. I’m not an expert on the subject.

But both for the radio that I listened to as a child and for the media of the future, it is the same: consistency with the facts.

Cabrejas: One of the themes of this trip was the protection of the natural environment. You spoke about it in all of your speeches, even with young people. You spoke of protecting trees from fires, deforestation. At the same moment, the same things are happening right now in the Amazon. Do you believe that the governments of these Amazonian areas are doing everything, like here in Africa, to protect this lung in the world?

Pope Francis: [Editor’s note: He returns to speaking in Italian.] I return to Africa. I said this in another journey: There is a “collective unconscious” with the motto “Africa must be exploited.” It is an unconscious thing. We do not think: “Europe must be exploited.” No, please. No, “Africa must be exploited.” We must free humanity from this collective unconscious.

The strongest point of this exploitation, not only in Africa, but everywhere in the world, is the natural environment. The natural environment … deforestation, the destruction of biodiversity. A couple of months ago, I received an audience with sea chaplains. There were seven fishermen who were fishing in a boat that was no longer than this airplane. They fished with modern mechanical means. A bit of adventurers … and they told me this: “From a few months ago to today, we have taken 6 tons of plastic.” In the Vatican, we banned plastic. We are working on this here. Six tons of plastic, but that is the reality: only in the oceans. The plastic in the oceans … this is the Pope’s prayer intention for this month, precisely: the protection of the oceans that also give us the oxygen we breathe.

Then there are the great lungs of humanity: one in central Africa, one in Brazil in the entire Amazon region, and then, and then there is one I don’t remember well. They are small lungs of the same kind.

Defend ecology, the biodiversity that is our life; defend oxygen. To me, it seems an illusion. … The biggest struggle is for biodiversity. The defense of the natural environment is carried out by young people who have a great conscience because they say: “The future is ours … do what you want with your future, but not with ours.” They begin to think a little about this.

Then came the Paris Accords, which was a good step forward. Then the most recent, at Katowice, were good, as well. These are meetings that help raise awareness. Last year, in the summer, when I saw that photo of a ship sailing in the North Pole, as if nothing had happened, I felt anguish. And recently, a few months ago, we all saw the photographs of the funeral they held in Greenland, where there are some glaciers that no longer exist. They did a symbolic funeral act to attract attention.

Now this quickly: We must become aware, starting with small things, small consciences. Your question: “Are the leaders doing everything?” Some more, some less. It is true that … there is something that I must say on the subject of environmental exploitation. … I was moved by the article in Il Messaggero on the 10th, the day we left, that Franca did not spare words [Editor’s note: The Pope refers here to Il Messaggero journalist Franca Giansoldati], speaking of destructive maneuvers of rapaciousness.

But this is not only in Africa; also in our cities, in our societies. And the ugly ugly word is corruption:  “I need to do this, but to do this I have to override that, the other, the other. I need the permission of the government, or the provincial, national governments I don’t know, and I’m going to the manager.” … The question … I repeat literally what a Spanish entrepreneur told me. The question we hear when we approve a project is: “And how much for me?” Unashamedly.

This happens in Africa, in Latin America, even in Europe, everywhere. When one takes on socio-political responsibility as personal gain, values are exploited, nature is exploited, so many people are exploited. We think of Africa [and the mentality that says] which must be exploited, but let us think of so many workers exploited in our societies. The African corporations did not invent it! We have them in Europe.

The domestic servant who is paid one-third of what he should be was not invented by Africans. Women deceived and exploited into prostitution in the center of our cities was not invented by Africans. It is also from us, from everyone; also from us there is this exploitation that is not only environmental, but also human. And this is of corruption. When corruption comes into our hearts, let us prepare ourselves for everything to come.


Pope Francis: They tell me that we have to stop … Let’s wait a little bit, sit down for a short while. I don’t want to go. I don’t want you to think this is a ploy to get out of this … I spoke for an hour. Let’s have a few more minutes to be calm.

[At this point, there was a momentary pause in the news conference due to turbulence.]

Bruni: The next question comes from Jason Horowitz of The New York Times, who is here.

Jason Horowitz (New York Times): Good morning, Holy Father. On the plane to Maputo, you acknowledged being under attack by a sector of the American Church. Evidently, there are strong criticisms, and there are even some cardinals and bishops, TV [stations], Catholics, American websites — many criticisms. Even some very close allies have spoken of a plot against you, some of your allies in the Italian Curia. Is there something these critics don’t understand about your pontificate, or is there something that you have learned from the criticisms [coming from] the United States? Another thing, are you afraid of a schism in the American Church and if yes, is there something that you could do, dialogue to help avoid it?

Pope Francis: First of all, criticisms always help, always, when one receives a criticism, immediately he should make a self-critique and say this: to me, is it true or is it not true, until what point? Of criticisms, I always see the advantages. Sometimes you get angry, but the advantages are there.

Then on the trip going to Maputo, one of you came… it was you who gave me the book? … One of you gave me that book… in French… yours? In French… The American Church attacks the pope… the Americans… No, the pope under attack by Americans… [Ed. note: he refers to the French book “How America Wanted to Change the Pope” by Nicolas Seneze of La Croix]. [A reporters’ voice: “How the Americans want to change the Pope”]. This is the book that you gave me a copy of, I’d heard of the book, I’d heard of it, but I have not read it. The criticisms are not only from Americans, they are a little from everywhere, even in the Curia, at least those who tell me, who have the advantage of honesty to say it, and I like this. I do not like it when critics are under the table. They smile, they let you see their teeth and then they stab you in the back. This is not loyal, not human. Criticism is an element of construction and if your critic is not right, you [must be] prepared to receive the response and to dialogue, [to have] a discussion and arrive at a fair point. This is the dynamic of the true criticism instead of the criticism of arsenic pills, which this article that I gave to Fr. Vuela was talking about — throwing the stone but hiding the hand. This isn’t necessary, it doesn’t help, help the little closed groups that don’t want to hear the response to the criticism. A criticism that does not want to hear the response is throwing a stone and hiding the hand. Instead, a fair criticism, I think this, this, this… It is open to a response, and you build, help.

Before the case of the pope, “But I don’t like this of the Pope,” I criticize and wait for the response, I go away from him and I speak and I write an article and I ask him to respond. This is fair, this is love for the Church. To criticize without wanting to hear the response and without dialogue is not wanting the good of the Church. It is to go backward to a fixed idea, to change the pope, to change the style, to create schism, this is clear no? A fair criticism is always well received, at least by me.

Second, the problem of schism: in the Church there [have been] many schisms. After Vatican I, the last vote, that of infallibility, a significant group left. They separated from the Church, founded the Old Catholics, to be really honest to the traditions of the Church. Then they discovered a different development and now ordain women, but in that moment they were rigid. They were going backward to an orthodoxy that they were thinking the council had gotten wrong. Another group went without voting, silent silent, but not wanting to vote.

Vatican II created these things, maybe the best known break is that of Lefebvre. There is always schismatic action in the Church, always, no? It is one of the actions that the Lord always leaves to human freedom. I don’t fear schisms, I pray they don’t exist because there’s the spiritual health of many people [to consider], right? [I pray] there will be dialogue, that there will be correction if there is some mistake, but the path of schism is not Christian.

But let’s think back to the beginning of the Church, how the Church began with many schisms, one after another, it is enough to read the history of the Church. The Arians, the Gnostics, the Monophysites, all of these. Then it comes to me to recall an anecdote that I have told a few times: it was the people of God who saved [the Church] from schisms. Schismatics always have one thing in common: they separate [themselves] from the people, from the faith of the people, from the faith of the People of God. And when, at the Council of Ephesus, there was a discussion on the maternity of Mary, the people — this is historic — were at the entrance of the cathedral and when the bishops entered for the Council, they had sticks, they showed them the sticks and yelled: “Mother of God, Mother of God.” As if to say, if you do not do this, here’s what awaits you. The People of God always mend and help.

A schism is always an elite condition of an ideology separated from doctrine. An ideology may be right, but that enters into doctrine and separates and becomes ‘doctrine’ in quotes, but for a time. For this, I pray that there are no schisms. But I am not afraid.

To help, but what I am saying now, you are not afraid I respond to criticism, I do all this, maybe if someone comes to him, something I have to do, I will do it. To help.

But this is one of the results of Vatican II. It is not from this Pope or from another Pope or that other pope. For example, the social things that I say are the same that John Paul II said, the same. I copy him. “But the Pope is very communistic, huh?” Ideologies and doctrine enter, and when the doctrine strays into ideology, there is the possibility of schism.

And also there is the behaviorist ideology, that is, the primacy of a sterile morality over the morality of the People of God, who even the pastors should guide, the flock, between grace and sin. This is evangelical morality.  

Instead, a morality of ideology, such as Pelagianism, to put it that way, makes you rigid and today we have many, many schools of rigidity inside the Church. They are not schism, but they are pseudo-schismatic Christian paths that in the end finish badly. When you see rigid Christians, bishops, priests, behind them are problems; there isn’t the holiness of the Gospel. For this we should be meek, not severe, with people who are tempted by these attacks, because they are going through a problem, and we should accompany them with meekness.

Bruni: the last question is by Aura Miguel di Radio Renacenca.

Pope Francis: How was my Portuguese?

Aura Vistas Miguel (Radio Renascenca): Very good! You were understood very well. I return to the topic of Mozambique only to ask this: We know that you do not like to visit countries during electoral campaigns. Yet, you came in Mozambique one month before the election, the president who invited you being one of the candidates?

Pope Francis: It was not a mistake, it was not a mistake. It was an option freely taken. Because the electoral campaign that begins in these days took a back seat to the peace process. What was important was to visit to help to solidify the peace process.

And this is more important than an [election] that has not yet begun. It begins in these last days, at the end of my visit. And there at the limit, balancing between the two things… And then I was able to greet the political opponents, to emphasize that the important thing was that and not to root for this president whom I do not know and do not know how he thinks. I don’t even know how others think.

For me it was more important to emphasize the unity of the country. But what he said is true: we must detach ourselves from [electoral] campaigns, this is true.

Many thanks to you all, for your work, I am grateful to you for what you do. Pray for me, I will pray for you. Have a good lunch.

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