Friday, April 4, 2014

Pope Francis: I'm happy, "absolutely happy"

The following came from Asian News:

Francis’ responses to a group of young Belgians who interviewed him. Love for the poor, "I heard that someone, said that this Pope is a communist. But that’s wrong. It is a commandment from the Gospel, not from communism". "In this moment in history, man is pushed out of the centre. He has been pushed to the periphery, and the center - at least right now - is power, money and we must work for people, for man and woman, who is the image of God".
Vatican City ( AsiaNews ) - Pope Francis is "happy, absolutely," he believes that our mistakes in life teach us - and among his, he indicates a certain "authoritarianism" of when he was young superior of the Jesuits in Argentina - he "fears" himself. There are many "personal" questions in interview granted by the Pope to a group of young Belgian people, broadcast yesterday evening by the Flemish public TV and which Vatican Radio today published in a Italian translation.

The interview, which took place March 31, was the result of a pastoral initiative by the Belgian Church Youth Ministry and gave the Pope the chance to reiterate and clarify some of the central points of his teaching , such as his love for the poor - "this is a is a commandment from the Gospel, not from communism " - or the centrality of the individual in a world that marginalizes the weak and promotes a "culture of waste".

Vatican Radio reports that the interview was "cheerful and friendly" and took place in a "climate of great simplicity: there was also a non-believer among young people who says she is inspired by the words of Pope Francis".

The first question gets straight to the heart of matters: "Everyone in this word is trying to be happy, but we were wondering: are you happy, and why?""Absolutely. (smiles) I am most certainly happy. I have a certain inner quietness, a great peace, a great happiness. That also comes with age. Of course, problems appear in everyone's path, but my happiness does not disappear because of those problems. But deep in my heart there is this peace and happiness. It is a grace from God, for me, really. It is a grace. It is not on my own merit".

The young people then ask him about his great love for the poor.  "Yes because that is the heart of the Gospel. I believe. I believe in God, in Jesus and the Gospel. The poor are at the heart of the Gospel. I heard that someone, two months ago, said, because of my focus on the poor, that this Pope is a communist. But that's wrong. It is a commandment from the Gospel, not from communism. The Gospel is about poverty outside of ideology. That is why I think the poor are at the heart of the Gospel. It's what it says. The problem is that often this attitute towards the poor has been ideologized in the past".

The young girl who is a non-believer then asks the Pope if he has a message for all young people believers and non-believers.

"We are all brothers, believers or not, of one faith or another, Jews or Muslims, we are all equal. Man is the centre. [...] In this moment in history, man is pushed out of the centre. He has been pushed to the periphery. In the centre, money and power rule, at least in this moment. In a world in which money and power are first and foremost important... young people have been chased out. Young people no longer want children. Families are becoming smaller, families don't want children. The elderly are pushed aside. Many elderly die because of a sort of hidden euthanasia, because no one cares for them and they die.  And now the young are chased out. For example, in Italy, youth unemployment of people under the age of 25 is at almost 50%. We are part of a culture of disposability. If it contributes nothing to globalisation, it is thrown away. The elderly, children, young people. During my years of service, now as Pope and before that in Buenos Aires, I spoke with many young politicians. That pleased me, because regardless of their political preferences, they spoke a new language, introduced a new music. A new music, a new style of doing politics. That gives me hope".

Responding to a question about our search for God, the Pope says: "I ask myself two questions about that. Where is God? And where is man? And I also ask myself now: where are you, 21st century man? A question of... And it also reminds me of that other question: God, where are you? When man finds himself, he seeks God. Perhaps he won't find God, but he sets out on a path of honesty, seeking out truth, a path of goodness and beauty. It is a long road. Some people don't  find Him during their life. They don't find Him consciously, but they are so real, so honest about themselves, so good and such lovers of beauty, that in the end they have a very mature and competent personality and meet God in all His grace".

A young man then asks him what mistakes he has made and what he has learned from them.  Pope Francis states that our mistakes in life are our greatest "teachers": I have made mistakes (laughs), and I still make them. They say man is the only animal that falls in the same well twice. In my life I have learned, and I still do, that mistakes are the best teachers. They teach you a lot. I don't dare to say that I always learnt my lesson. Sometimes I didn't, because I am very stubborn (laughs). That's hard to change. But I learned from many mistakes and that has been good".

A young girl asks for a concrete example of a mistake he has made:  "For example, I became a superior when I was very young. I made many mistakes against authoritarianism. I was too authoritarian. I was 36 years old. I learned then that you have to enter into dialogue and have to listen to what others think. That did not mean I had changed for good. The road is long".

Another personal question was then asked: "What makes you afraid?"Myself.(laughs) Fears? In the Gospel Jesus continuously repeats: Be not afraid, be not afraid. Why does He repeat that so often? Because He knows that fear is "normal". We are afraid of life, of challenges. We also know fears before God. Everyone is afraid. Everyone. So you don't have to worry. You should ask yourself why you are afraid, before God, before yourself. You should learn to delineate your fear, because there is good and bad fear. Good fear is like prudence, a careful attitude. Bad fear is fear that limits you. It makes you small. It paralyses you, prevents you from doing things. You must lose that fear.

The young people's last question is: "Do you have a question for us?"My question is certainly not original. It comes from the Gospel. But after hearing all your questions, I think this is the right question at this time. Where is your treasure? Where does your heart rest? In what treasure does your heart rest? Because that treasure will define your life. The heart is linked to that treasure, which we all possess. Power, money, pride... so many things. Or... goodness, beauty, the will to do good. It can be so many things. Where is your treasure? That is my question. But you must answer it for yourselves, alone. At home".

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