In a new, wide-ranging interview Pope Francis touched on a variety of serious and lighthearted topics, such as the current refugee crisis, youth unemployment and how often the he goes to confession.
Aired for the first time Sept. 14, the interview was conducted by Vatican journalist Aura Miguel with Portugal-based Radio Renascença (Renaissance) Sept. 8. The questions were posed in Portuguese and the responses were given by Pope Francis in Spanish.
The following is a CNA translation of Radio Renascença’s full interview with Pope Francis:
Miguel: First of all, Your Holiness, thanks for this interview. It’s really a privilege for Radio Renascença to have this exclusive conversation with you.
Pope Francis: It’s also pleasure for me because these days all the Bishops of Portugal are here and yesterday I spent the whole morning with the Portuguese bishops. So this interview coincides (with that).
Miguel: How does a pope that comes from “the end of the world” see Portugal and the Portuguese people?
Pope Francis: I was only in Portugal one time, in the airport, a few years ago, on my way to Rome in a Varig plane. It made a layover in Lisbon, and so I know the airport, but of course I know a lot of Portuguese (people). And at the Seminary in Buenos Aires there were a lot of employees who were Portuguese immigrants. They are nice people that got along well with the seminarians. And my dad had a Portuguese co-worker. I remember his name, Adelino. Well, and one time I got to meet a Portuguese lady who was more than 80 years old, who also made a good impression on me. So in other words, I never met a bad Portuguese person.
Miguel: That’s lucky! In your address to the Portuguese bishops, besides praising the Portuguese people and taking a serene look at the Church, the Holy Father mentioned two concerns: One regarding the young people and the other concerning catechesis. The Holy Father used an image, saying: “young people don’t need First Communion attire anymore” but “some communities still insist on it.” What’s the issue?
Pope Francis: It’s a form of speech, right? Young people are more informal and they’ve got their own rhythm. You’ve got to let a young person grow. You’ve got to accompany a young person (in life). Don’t just leave him alone. Be there for him. And you need to know how to accompany him with prudence, to know how to talk to him at the right moment, to know how to listen a lot. A young person is restless. They don’t want to be bothered. And in that sense, you could say that First Communion attire just isn’t their style. On the other hand, children, when they make their First Communion, like First Communion attire. It’s something they desire. But young people have other things that excite them which are often very good, but you’ve got to respect that, because they don’t even understand themselves, because they’re changing. They’re growing, they’re searching, right? So, you’ve got to let a young person grow, you’ve got to accompany him, respect him and speak to him in a very fatherly way, right?
Miguel: Because at the same time there is a need to propose, but often this is not attractive!
Pope Francis: That’s why you have to look for what is attractive to a young person and is demanding of him. For example, a concrete case: If you invite a young person — and you see this everywhere — to go on a hike, go camping or on the other hand go on a mission, or to visit an “old folks home,” sometimes to take care of the sick for a week or 15 days, he gets excited because he wants to do something for others. He becomes involved.
Pope Francis: Yes, he gets into it. He makes a commitment. He doesn’t look around for something else. He gets involved – that is, committed.
Miguel: So, how come he doesn’t keep on (coming to church)?
Pope Francis: Because he’s on a journey.
Miguel: What is the challenge the Church must confront? The Holy Father has spoken also about a catechesis that often remains theoretical and lacks that ability to propose an encounter (with God) …
Pope Francis: Well, it’s important that catechesis not be just purely theoretical. That doesn’t work. Catechesis means doctrine for life, and as such it’s got to be in three ways of speaking, three languages: The language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. So, catechesis needs to be conveyed in those three languages so that the young person may think about and know what the faith is, but, at the same time, feel in his heart what the faith is and at the same time do things. If catechesis is missing any one of these three languages, these three ways of speaking, it’s not going to work. The three languages: to think what you feel and what you do, to feel what you think and what you do, to do what you feel and what you think.
Miguel: Listening to Your Holiness, this seems obvious, but looking around, especially looking at the old Europe, the old Christendom, that’s not the way it is. What’s missing? A change in mentality? How is it done?
Pope Francis: No, changing the mindset, I don’t know. Because I don’t know (the whole situation), right? But sure, sometimes catechetical methodology isn’t complete, that’s true. (We need to) seek a catechetical methodology that joins together those three things: the truths you need to believe, what you need to feel, and what you do, what you need to do, all together.
Miguel: Your Holiness, for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, we await you in Portugal. Three popes have already visited us. John Paul II three times. You, who love Our Lady so much, what do you hope for your visit in 2017?
Pope Francis: Well, let’s clear things up. I really want to go to Portugal for the 100th anniversary. Also in 2017 it’ll be the 300th anniversary of the finding of the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida (Brazil).
Miguel: …an appointment in stereo sound, in two places! (laughter)
Pope Francis: So. I really want to go there as well. I already promised to go there. Portugal, like I said, I want to go there and I would like to go there. It’s easier to go to Portugal because you can go to the Virgin and come back in one day — a full day, a day-and-a-half, or two days. The Virgin is (our) Mother. She is very much a mother. And, her presence accompanies the people of God. So, I would like to go to Portugal, which is a special place.
Miguel: And what are you expecting from us Portuguese? How can we prepare ourselves to receive you and to follow the requests of Our Lady?
Pope Francis: What the Virgin is always asking us to do is to pray, to take care of our family, to keep the commandments. She’s not asking for strange things. Let us pray for the people who have lost their way, who are called sinners. We’re all sinners, and I’m the first of sinners. But the Virgin asks, and we need to prepare ourselves by responding to those requests of Our Lady, right? Those messages which are so motherly, you know. So motherly, right? And she shows herself to children. It’s a curious thing, but she’s always searching out simple souls. Isn’t that so? Very simple.
Miguel: This interview is taking place right in the middle of the refugee crisis. Holy Father, how are you living this situation?
Pope Francis: This is the tip of the iceberg. We see these refugees, these poor people who are escaping from war, escaping from hunger, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. But underlying that is the cause, and the cause is a socio-economic system that is bad, unjust, because within an economic system, within everything, within the world, speaking of the ecological problem, within the socio-economic society, in politics, the person always has to be the center. And today’s dominant economic system has removed the person from the center, and at the center is the god of money. It’s the fashionable god today. I mean, there are statistics. I don’t remember very well, but — this is not exact and I could be making a mistake— 17% of the population has 80% of the wealth.
Miguel: And this exploitation of the riches of the poorest countries, in the near future, brings this result of all of these people who now want to come to Europe…
Pope Francis: Which is the same thing that happens in big cities. Why are “favelas” (shantytowns) formed in big cities?
Miguel: The criteria is the same…
Pope Francis: The same. It’s the people who come from the country because they have been deforested. They have made a mono-cultivation. They have no work, and they go to big cities.
Miguel: In Africa it’s the same…
Pope Francis: In Africa… it’s the same phenomenon. So, these people who emigrate come to Europe – it’s the same – looking for a place. And, of course, for Europe right now it’s a surprise, because it’s difficult to believe that this is happening, no? But it’s happening.
Miguel: But Holy Father, when you went to Strasbourg, you said it was “necessary to act on the causes and not only on the effects.” But it seems that no one listened and now the effects are visible…
Pope Francis: You have to go to the causes.
Miguel: And no one listened, most likely…
Pope Francis: Where the cause is hunger, bring sources of work, investments. Where the cause is war, look for peace, work for peace. Today, the world is at war, is at war against itself. That is, the world is at war — as I say — a war in parts, piecemeal. But it is also at war against the earth, because it’s destroying the earth, that is, our common home. The environment, the glaciers are melting. In the Arctic, the polar bear goes increasingly northward to survive.
Miguel: And the concern for man and his destiny, seems neglected…As you see the reaction now in Europe, with many positions taken: there are those who raise walls, others who choose refugees according to their religion, others profit from the situation in order to make populist speeches…
Pope Francis: Each culture draws its own interpretation, no? And sometimes, the ideological interpretation, or that of ideas, is easier than doing things, than reality, no? Let’s go far from Europe, to another phenomenon that has greatly saddened me. The “Rohingya” who were expelled from their country and, well, they are in a boat and they go. They arrive at a port or a beach, they give them water, they give them something to eat, and then out to sea again. They don’t welcome them. I mean, humanity lacks the ability to welcome.
Miguel: Because it’s not tolerating; it’s more than tolerating, it’s welcoming…
Pope Francis: To welcome, to welcome people, no? And to welcome as they come. I am a son of immigrants and I am from the migrant wave of ‘29 (1929), but in Argentina, from ‘84 – 1884 – Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, started to arrive; I don’t know when the first Portuguese “wave” arrived, but Portuguese… above all from those three countries, no? And they arrived there and some had money, others went to the immigrant hotels and there they sent them to the cities. It’s true that in that time there was work, but in my own family, which had work – they arrived in ‘29 – in the year ‘32, with the economic crisis of ‘30, they were left standing in the street, without anything. But, my grandfather bought [a warehouse] with two thousand pesos that he borrowed. And my father, who was an accountant – a “bookkeeper” – “hacia el reparto con la canasta” [Argentinian saying, literally: “made the deal with the basket”]: that is, he was eager to fight, to conquer. I know what immigration is. And afterwards came the immigrants from the Second (World) War, above all from central Europe: many Poles, many Poles, Slovaks, Croats, Slovenians, and also from Syria and Lebanon. And we always get along well there. In Argentina, there was no xenophobia and now there is internal migration in America. They come to Argentina from other American countries, although in recent years it’s decreased due to a lack of work in Argentina.
Miguel: And also from Mexico to the United States…there is a phenomenon.
Pope Francis: The migratory phenomenon is a reality, but I wanted to touch on a theme which… without criticizing anyone, right? but when there is an empty space, people look to fill it. If a country doesn’t have children, migrants come to occupy that place. I think about the level of births in Italy, Portugal, and Spain. I think that it’s almost 0%. So, if there are no children, there are empty spaces. I mean, this not wanting to have children which, in part – it’s my interpretation, I don’t know if it’s correct – is a little bit the culture of “wellbeing,” no? I heard it in my own family, from my Italian cousins, years ago: “No, children no. We prefer to travel on vacations or buy a villa, or this or that.” And then, the elderly are left alone. I think that the great challenge of Europe is to return to being mother Europe…
Miguel: And not the…?
Pope Francis: …grandmother Europe.
Miguel: (Words in Portuguese, the Pope interrupts the question)
Pope Francis: Excuse me, there are European countries that are young. For example, Albania. Albania impressed me. People 40 years old, 45 years old. Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is, countries that have been remade after a war, right?
Miguel: That’s why the Holy Father visited them…
Pope Francis: Ah, yes, of course. It’s a sign for Europe.
Miguel: But can this challenge of welcoming these refugees who are arriving, in your perspective, become very positive for Europe? Is it a good thing, a provocation? Finally, in a certain way, can Europe wake up, change it’s course?
Pope Francis: It could be. It’s true. I also want to recognize that territorial security conditions today are not the same as other times, because it’s true that 400 kilometers from Sicily we have an extremely cruel terrorist guerilla war, no? So the danger of infiltration is real, right?
Miguel: And that it could reach Rome…
Pope Francis: Ah yes. No one said that Rome is immune to this, right? But precautions can be taken and the people come…all to work. Of course, there is another problem, it’s that Europe has a very big labor crisis. In one country – I speak of three countries, I’m not going to name them, – but important ones in Europe: From 25 years and under, the unemployment for youth of 25 years and under is, in one country, 40%, in another country it’s 47% and in the other it’s 50%. There is a labor crisis. Young people don’t find work. Many things are mixed together. We shouldn’t be simplistic about it. Obviously, a refugee comes with all kinds of security measures and they have to be received because it’s a commandment of the Bible. Moses told his people: “I welcomed the foreigner because remember that you were a foreigner in Egypt,” right?
Miguel: But the ideal (situation) would be that they don’t need to flee, that they stay in their land, right?
Pope Francis: That’s right.
Miguel: Holy Father, in the Sunday Angelus, you made this challenge of a widespread welcome. Are there reactions? What do you expect concretely?
Pope Francis: What I asked was this: that every parish, every religious institute, every monastery welcome a family. A family, not a person. A family gives more assurance of stability, a little to avoid infiltrations of another type. When I speak of a parish welcoming a family, I’m not saying they’re going to live at the rectory, at the parish residence, but that the parish community sees to it there is a place, a corner of a school to make a “small apartment” or, in the worst case, rent a modest apartment for the family, but that they have a roof, to be welcomed, and that they are integrated into the community. And there were many reactions. Many, many, right? There are convents that are almost empty.
Miguel: Two years ago the Holy Father already made this appeal [that empty convents be opened] and what were the results?
Pope Francis: There are only four. One of them, the Jesuits. Very good, the Jesuits. But it’s serious. It’s that here also there is the temptation of the god of money. Some congregations say “No, now that this convent is empty, we’re going to make a hotel, an “albergo,” and we can receive people and with this we’ll support ourselves or earn money.” Well, if you want to do that, pay taxes. A religious school because it’s religious is exempt from taxes but if it works like a hotel then pay taxes like everybody else. Otherwise the business isn’t very healthy.
Miguel: And the Holy Father has already said that here in the Vatican, you will welcome two families…
Pope Francis: Two families, yes. Of course, yesterday they told me that the families were already in place, the two parishes in the Vatican were instructed to search.
Miguel: They are already identified?
Pope Francis: Yes, yes, yes, they are already there. And Cardinal Comastri did this, my Vicar General for the Vatican, with him the head of the Almonry, who is Bishop Konrad Krajewski, who works with the people, with the homeless. It’s he who made the showers under the colonnade, the barber’s service. It’s truly wonderful, that he brings people from the street to see the Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
Miguel: And how long will these families stay?
Pope Francis: Until the Lord wants. No one knows this, how it’s going to end, no? Anyway, I want to say that Europe became conscious, eh? And I thank them. I thank the European countries who have become aware of this.
Miguel: Radio Renascença, this radio interviewing you, has take part in a joint-initiative in Portugal which integrates Christian institutions also (those of) other religions with the desire to welcome and move in favor of the refugees. Holy Father, can you give us some words of support to those who help and also to our listeners and those who work there?
Pope Francis: I congratulate them, I appreciate what they are doing, and I give them a piece of advice: on Judgment Day, we already know over what we will be judged on – it’s written in Matthew Chapter 25 when Jesus tells them “I was hungry, did you give me food?” And they are going to say “Yes.” And when I was without shelter, as a refugee, did you help me? “Yes.” I congratulate them. They’re going to pass the test. One thing I also wanted to say to them. Work with unemployed youth. I think here it’s urgent to do so, above all in religious congregations that have education as a charism, but also laity, lay educators, to create small courses, emergency schools. So, a young person who is unemployed, studies cooking for six months, or studies to be gas or heating technician for six months – so long as rooves keep breaking – or to be a painter. So, with this skill they always have the possibility of finding work, even part-time, for the moment. It’s doing what we call a “changa,” I don’t know how…(journalist asks about the meaning of “changa”) “Changa,” yes. It’s occasional work, right? A good “changa.” And with that not everyone is unemployed. But today is the day. It’s the time of emergency education, which is what Don Bosco did. Don Bosco, when he saw the amount of young people who were in the street, he said that education is needed, but sending the children to middle school, the humanities, no. Trades. So, he prepared carpenters, plumbers, who taught them to work and they had to earn a living. And Don Bosco had that. And now I want to tell an anecdote of Don Bosco. Here, in Rome, close to Trastevere, where…
(Journalist interjects: “it was a poor area)…
Yes, it was a very poor area, but now it’s the popular area for youth to “go out,” right? Ok. Don Bosco passed by there. He was there in a carriage, in a car, I don’t know, and they threw a rock and broke the glass. He stopped and said: “This is the place where we have to establish ourselves.” That is, in the face of an aggression, he didn’t live it as an aggression. He lived it as a challenge to help people, boys, youth, who only knew how to attack. And today, there is a Salesian parish here which forms youth and children, with their schools, their things. Well, this – returning to the theme of youth, right? – what’s important today is to give emergency education about some trade so that they can earn a living.
Miguel: The Holy Father is very critical of the lifestyle of Western Europe, the so-called first world, too centered on well-being. What bothers you the most?
Pope Francis: Well, it’s to say, also in the big American cities, whether in North America or South America, the same problem exists. It’s not only Europe. In Buenos Aires, there is a large sector of the culture of “wellbeing,” right? And because of this there are these strands around the cities, the “favelas” (shantytowns), right? I wouldn’t throw this in Europe’s face so much today. It must be recognized that Europe has an exceptional culture. Truly, there are centuries of culture, right? And this also gives intellectual well-being, and I, in every case, what I would say about Europe is their ability to regain leadership in the concert of nations. That is, it returns to being the Europe that marks paths, because it has the culture to do it.
Miguel: But to keep Europe’s identity today? Are they in a condition to affirm their identity?
Pope Francis: What I said in Strasburg I thought about a lot before I said it. In other words, I would repeat a bit, right? Europe isn’t dead yet. It’s half-grandmother, but it can return to being a mother. And I have confidence in the young politicians. Young politicians “speak another music.” There is a global problem that doesn’t just affect Europe, but the whole world, and it’s the problem of corruption. Corruption on all levels. This also indicates a low moral level, no?
Miguel: The Holy Father speaks of this in his recent encyclical, and asks populations to be more aware. However, a lot of abstention occurs. If we look at election results, abstention is almost greater than a party…
Pope Francis: Because the people don’t…they are disillusioned. In part because of corruption. In part, because of inefficiency. In part, because of previously undertaken commitments. And, anyway, Europe can and should – and I affirm what I said in Strasbourg – Europe has to take on it’s role: that is, to recover her identity. It’s true that Europe went wrong. I’m not throwing it back in her face. I’m reminding of it: nothing more. When I wanted to speak of her identity, I didn’t recognize, perhaps, the deepest part of her identity, which are her Christian roots, right? That was wrong. Ok, but we all make mistakes in life. It’s time to return to her…
Miguel: Holiness, a question for the “simple listener,” also due to this wave of individualism: What can touch the freedom of someone who “does what they want” and who was educated as a child with the concept of happiness of those for whom “happiness is to not have problems?” Generally, children are educated with this desire of those for whom “happiness is not having problems and doing what they want…” (laughs)
Pope Francis: A life without problems is boring. It’s a boredom. Inside, man has the need to face and resolve conflicts and solve problems. Obviously, an education to not have problems is a sterile education, sterile. Make the experiment yourself! Drink a good glass of mineral water, plain water, or “tap” water, and after drink a glass of distilled water. It’ll be gross. Distilled water has no problems. It’s to educate children in a laboratory, right? Please.
Miguel: It’s important to take risks.
Pope Francis: Risk, always set goals. To educate, we need to use both feet — to educate well. Having a foot well planted on the floor, the pavement, that piece of pavement… well supported. Is the other foot well supported there? No, the other foot is a step ahead and seeing if I can support it. And when I have planted the other, I lift and…this is educating. To find support on something secure, but trying to take a step forward until I have security and, from there, [I draw it out.]
Miguel: It’s more tiring to educate like this…
Pope Francis: It’s a risk. Why? Because maybe I take a bad step and I fall. And well, you get up and continue.
Miguel: Holiness, in the wave of individualism in which we are living – the Holy Father spoke of this in Strasbourg – it seems like a whim to demand increasingly more rights separated from the search for the truth. Do you think this is also a problem in the way the faith is lived?
Pope Francis: It could be. And demands…without the generosity of giving. That is, to demand my rights and not my duties toward society, is it not? I think that rights and duties go together, right? Also, this creates a “mirror-education,” because a “mirror-education” is narcissism and today we are in a narcissistic civilization.
Miguel: How do you win? How do you fight?
Pope Francis: With education. For example, rights and duties. With education to the reasonable risks. Looking for goals, making progress, but not by standing still and looking in the mirror, right? What happened to Narcissus will happen to us. Looking at himself so much in the beautiful water, so pretty, bloop, he drowned. (laughs)
Miguel: Holiness, you say you prefer a “accident-prone” Church rather than a sick Church. What do you mean when you say “accident-prone” Church?
Pope Francis: Yes, let me explain: it’s an image of life. If one has a space in his home: a room closed a lot of the time, (there is) humidity, “mold,” the bad odor. If a Church, a parish, a diocese, an institute lives closed in on itself, it becomes sick. The same happens in a closed room. And (what) we have is a rickety Church, with fixed norms, without creativity, safe, more than secure — no, insured by an insurance company, but not secure. On the other hand, if one goes out – a Church, a parish – goes outside to evangelize, the same can happen that happens to any person on the street: an accident. So, between a sick Church and an accident-prone Church, I prefer the accident-prone, because at least it goes out. And here – I want to repeat something that I said before on a different occasion – in the Bible, in the Apocalypse, there is something beautiful from Jesus – I think in the second chapter, the end of the first or the second – where he is speaking about a Church and says: “I stand at the door and knock.” It is Jesus knocking. “If you open for me, I will come in and dine with you.” But I ask myself: “how many times, in the Church, does Jesus knock at the door, but from within so that we leave him to go out and announce the Kingdom.” Sometimes, we position ourselves on the other side of Jesus and we forget that a Church which is not an outgoing Church, a Church which doesn’t go out, holds Jesus prisoner, imprisoned.
Miguel: Was it because of this you were elected Pope? (laughs)
Pope Francis: Ask the Holy Spirit that. (laughs openly)
Miguel: They say that it was with this speech, which earned applause…
Pope Francis: They are…(inaudible words…)
Miguel: Holiness, since you became Pope, do you think that the Church is more accident prone?
Pope Francis: I don’t know. I know that, for what they tell me, God is blessing his Church a lot. It’s a moment that doesn’t depend on my person, but on the blessing that God wants to give to his Church at this time, right? And now, with this Jubilee of Mercy, I hope that many people feel the Church a mother, because the same thing can happen to the Church as to Europe, right? To be too much of a grandmother and not a mother, right? and unable to generate life, right?
Miguel: Is this the reason for the Jubilee of Mercy…
Pope Francis: It’s that everyone may come. That they come and feel the love, the forgiveness of God. In Buenos Aires, I knew a Capuchin friar – a little younger than me – who is a great confessor. He always has a line, many people, yes many people, all day confessing. And he is a great forgiver. And sorry, but, sometimes, he gets scruples for having forgiven a lot. And so, one time talking, he told me: “sometimes I have these scruples.” And I asked him: “What do you do when you have these scruples?” – “I go in front of the tabernacle, I look at the Lord, and I tell him: Lord, forgive me, today I have forgiven a lot, but let’s make it clear, eh? The blame is yours because you gave me a bad example.”
Miguel: Because of this the Holy Father also decided, in this letter to Archbishop Fisichella, to offer forgiveness to the most difficult situations and now you have published these letters (motu proprio) which accelerate the annulment process. Does this also have to do with the Jubilee?
Pope Francis: Yes, to simplify. To facilitate the faith to the people, right? And that the Church may be a mother, right?
Miguel: The reason for these motu proprio letters for annulments is exactly to facilitate?
Pope Francis: To make more “agile,” to streamline the process in the hands of the Bishop. A judge, a Defender of the Bond, only one sentence, because until now there were two sentences. No, only one. If there is no appeal, it’s already done. If there is an appeal, to the Metropolitan (diocese), but to streamline and also cost-free processes.
Miguel: The Holy Father has also thought of the synod in the Jubilee?
Pope Francis: Everything is coming up.
Miguel: I know that you don’t want to speak about the Synod, but in your heart as a universal shepherd, what are you asking?
Pope Francis: I’m asking for lots of prayers. The Synod, you, the journalists, already know the Instrumentum Laboris. This is going to be talked about. From what is there, we will speak. There are three weeks, one theme, one chapter for each week. And many things are expected. Because, obviously, the family is in crisis. Young people don’t marry. They don’t marry. Or with this “provisional” culture, “ok, cohabitating, or I get married, while love lasts, then, see ya.”
Miguel: And what does the Holy Father say to those who live a Christian morality contrary to the instructions of the Church and who are anxious for forgiveness?
Pope Francis: Here, in the Synod, all of the possibilities of helping the family are going to be talked about. May one thing remain clear – which Pope Benedict said clearly, clearly: people who are in a second union are not excommunicated and must be integrated into the life of the Church. This was very clear. And I, in the (Wednesday) catechesis, I said it clearly the other day, right? To get closer to the Mass, to catechesis, to the education of children, to the works of charity, a thousand things, right?
Miguel: Holiness, I would like to finish with questions on your vocation. From the beginning, in March 2013, you were prepared to go “into retirement.” You had already chosen where to live, etc. However, you have become one of the most famous men in the world. How do you live this situation?
Pope Francis: I haven’t lost peace. It’s a gift…peace is a gift from God. It’s a gift that God has given me, something that I never imagined, because of my age, for all that. Moreover, I had planned the return, thinking that no Pope was going to assume (the papacy) during Holy Week. So, if we delayed in choosing him, anticipating the function to the Saturday before Palm Sunday. And I got a return ticket so that Palm Sunday Mass could be celebrated and I left the homily prepared on my desk. It was something I didn’t expect and, already in December, I was leaving the position to which a successor was going to be named. So…
Miguel: There is an entire adventure, now, in front of you…
Pope Francis: Everything…but I haven’t lost peace. I haven’t lost peace.
Miguel: Pope Francis is loved by all the world, your popularity is growing, as the polls reveal, so many want to see you as a candidate for the Nobel Prize…but Jesus warned his followers: “You will be hated because of my name.” How do you feel, Holiness?
Pope Francis: Many times I ask myself what will be my cross, what is my cross. Because crosses exist. You don’t see them but they are there. And Jesus also was very popular at one time, and afterward he ended up like he ended up, right? That is, no one has purchased worldly happiness. The only thing I ask, is that the peace in my heart is preserved and that I am preserved in his grace, because until the final moment one is a sinner and can deny his grace. One thing consoles me: that St. Peter committed a very serious sin – to deny Jesus. After this they made him Pope. If with this sin they made him Pope, with all that I have, I console myself: Okay, the Lord will take care of me as he took care of Peter. But Peter was crucified, so I don’t know how I will finish. Whatever he decides. As long as he gives me peace, he can do what he wants.
Miguel: Holy Father, how do you live your freedom being Pope? How come you have appeared in a morning Mass at St. Peter’s and went to an eye doctor to repair your glasses…Do you miss the people?
Pope Francis: Yes. I need to go out, but it’s still a little…These aren’t the times, right? But, little by little, I have contact with people on Wednesdays and this helps me a lot, right? Yes, the only thing I miss from Buenos Aires is to go out to “stroll around,” to walk down the street.
Miguel: And let’s finish with flash questions: What takes your sleep away?
Pope Francis: Can I tell you the truth? I sleep like a log. (laughs)
Miguel: What makes you run?
Pope Francis: When I have a lot of work.
Miguel: What is never urgent and can wait?
Pope Francis: What’s never urgent? Small things that can wait until tomorrow, the day after. There are things which are very urgent. Others are not urgent. But I couldn’t say specifically this is more urgent that another.
Miguel: How often do you confess?
Pope Francis: Every fifteen, twenty days. I confess to a Franciscan Father, Father Blanco, who has the goodness to come here to hear my confession. And yes, I never had to call an ambulance to take him back, afraid of my sins. (laughs)
Miguel: How and where would you like to die?
Pope Francis: Wherever God wants. Seriously, no…wherever God wants…
Miguel: The last: how do you imagine eternity?
Pope Francis: When I was younger, I imagined it very boring. (laughs). Now I think that it’s a Mystery of encounter. It’s so unimaginable, but must be something very nice, very beautiful to meet with the Lord.
Miguel: Thank you, Holy Father.
Pope Francis: Thanks to you and a big greeting to all the listeners on this radio. And, please, I ask them to pray for me. May God bless you and the Virgin of Fatima watch over you.
In a new, wide-ranging interview Pope Francis touched on a variety of serious and lighthearted topics, such as the current refugee crisis, youth unemployment and how often the he goes to confession.