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Pope welcomes criticism as 'very healthy' in new interview

December 09, 2014

Pope Francis said that he welcomed “resistance” to his ideas, and said that the Synod of Bishops would not be “touching any item of Church doctrine on marriage,” in a new in-depth interview with an Argentine journal.

The Pope told Elisabetta Piqué of La Nacion that “resistance means different points of view, not something dirty.” Questioned about the increasingly direct criticism of his pastoral plans, he said “that is a good sign for me: getting the resistance out in the open.” He insisted that it is “very healthy” to have open disagreements.

Speaking particularly the debates that occurred during the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops, the Pope reminded his interviewer that in his closing speech he had emphasized that the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage would not be changed. Specifically regarding the status of Catholics who are divorced and remarried, he said that “it is not a solution.”

Effective pastoral care for divorced and remarried Catholics, the Holy Father explained, would involve integrating them into the life of the Church. He said that as things stand, these Catholics are barred not only from the Eucharist but also from acting as godparents, teaching in religious-education classes, or functioning as lectors. They are, he said, virtually excommunicated de facto. The challenge for the Synod is to find ways to remedy that problem, he said.

When questioned on the reform of the Roman Curia, the Pope said that the process will not be complete in 2015, as some observers had predicted. Yet he expressed satisfaction that the reform is moving forward at a healthy pace.

Pope Francis reiterated his statement that new Vatican congregations might not be headed by cardinals or bishops. A congregation serving the laity, for instance, could have a member of the laity at the helm. He added that the secretaries of these congregations—the 2nd-ranking members—might also be drawn from the laity.

The process of Vatican reform was a factor in the replacement of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Pope said. He disclosed that when Cardinal Burke asked about his future as head of the Apostolic Signatura, he replied that it was unclear because the Council of Cardinals was considering a restructuring of the Vatican tribunals. “After that the issue of the Order of Malta cropped up and we needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position,” the Pope told Piqué. He said that he had deliberately delayed the announcement of the change so that Cardinal Burke would be able to participate in the October meeting of the Synod.

“It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the Synod,” the Pope concluded. When he was questioned about complaints that the Church seemed like a ship without a rudder—a judgment attributed to Cardinal Burke—the Pope said that he questioned the accuracy of the quotation. He said while he had seen the quotation in the media, “until I can ask the people involved, ‘Have you said this?’ I will have brotherly doubts.”

Acknowledging the statistics that show many Catholics leaving the Church, Pope Francis said that “clericalism” is responsible for the exodus. Clericalism, he said, “stopped laypersons from maturing.” In Latin America, he continued, the maturity fo the laity is most evident when they engage in popular piety.

When La Nacion asked about his health, the Pope—who will celebrate his 78th birthday on December 17—replied: “I do have some aches and pains, and at my age ailments don´t go unnoticed. But I am in God´s hands; up to now I have been able to work steadily.”


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  • Posted by: skall391825 - Dec. 10, 2014 1:44 AM ET USA

    A magnificent teaching Pope. A well done translation, too, by LA NACION. It's a scandal that the Pope has no competent English translators at the Vatican. When he said, "That´s what I think, not what the media say that I think. Check it out, it´s very clear. Evangelii Gaudium is very clear", I recalled how angry I am at his press office because we still don't have a competent English version of Evangelii Gaudium. Does Francis not know this?