Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pope Francis: "Never be afraid of tenderness"

The following comes from La Stampa:

In this exclusive interview, Pope Francis speaks about Christmas, hunger in the world, the suffering of children, the reform of the Roman Curia, women cardinals, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), and the upcoming visit to the Holy Land
“For me Christmas is hope and tenderness...”. Francis tells Italian newspaper La Stampa about his first Christmas as Bishop of Rome, in an interview published in today’s issue. During the interview the Pope also talks about the innocent suffering of children and the tragedy of hunger in the world, the Catholic Church’s relations with other Christian denominations and the “ecumenism of blood” that unites them in times of persecution. The Pope also touches on the issue of the family, which will be discussed at the next Synod, and responds to US critics who accused him of being “a Marxist”.
“Christmas is God’s meeting with his people. It is also a consolation, a mystery of consolation,” Francis explains. “After the midnight mass I have often spent an hour or so alone in the chapel before celebrating the dawn mass. I felt a profound feeling of consolation and peace.” “On Christmas eve, my thoughts are above all with the Christians who live there, with those who are in difficulty, with the many people who have had to leave that land because of various problems,” the Pope adds, referring to the Holy Land. 
On the subject of children’s suffering, Francis says: “When I come across a suffering child, the only prayer that comes to mind is the “why” prayer. Why Lord?” In response to the criticism he received after the publication of the “Evangelii Gaudium” from ultraconservatives in the US who accused him of being a “Marxist”, the Pope remarks: “Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.” But, he points out, “there is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church.”

Replying to a question on Christian unity, Francis referred to the “ecumenism of blood”: In some countries Christians are killed for wearing a cross or having a Bible and before they are killed they are not asked whether they are Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic or Orthodox. Blood is mixed. To those who kill we are Christians.” Regarding the subject of remarried divorcees, Francis recalls that their exclusion from communion is “not a sanction” and confirms that these issues will be dealt with in greater depth at the next Synod.

Commenting on Curia reform, the Pope informs that in February his eight cardinal “advisors” will deliver their “first” concrete “suggestions”. Francis flatly denies allegations that he intends to nominate women cardinals, stating:  “I don’t know where any such an idea came from. Women in the Church must be valued not “clericalised”.”

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