“Maybe there’s an impression I’m a little bit more leftie, but I haven’t said a single thing that’s not in the social doctrine of the Church,” Pope Francis told reporters who accompanied him on a September 22 flight from Cuba to the US.
Questioned about the perception that he has led the Church into political controversy, the Pope denied the charge. “I follow the Church,” he said; “and in this, I do not think I am wrong.”
In response to a question about the US embargo on Cuba, the Pontiff said that he would not raise the question when he addresses the US Congress on September 24. He said that he hopes for an end to the embargo, but would not interfere with diplomatic talks now taking place between the two countries.
Asked about the arrest of Cuban political dissidents who had sought to meet him in Havana, Pope Francis said that he was not aware of the arrests when they took place. Responding to a follow-up question about what he might have said if he had met with them, he declined to answer directly. “I can’t deal in hypotheticals,” he said.
When a reporter questioned him about his private meeting with Fidel Castro, and asked whether the former dictator had expressed repentance, the Pope again demurred. “Repentance is something intimate,” he said. Pope Francis said that in his talks with the aging Castro, he did not speak about the past, other than talking with Castro about his experience with Jesuit educators.
The Pope conducted his question-and-answer session with reporters in Spanish and Italian. He admitted: “English isn’t my strong point.”