‘Wait and see’ on Trump’s presidency, Pope tells interviewer
January 23, 2017
Pope Francis adopted a “wait and see” attitude toward President Donald Trump, in a new interview with the Spanish daily El Pais.
“I don’t like to get ahead of myself, or to judge people prematurely,” the Pope said regarding Trump. “We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will form an opinion.”
In a separate part of the interview, Pope Francis spoke about his concerns regarding populism, and reminded his interviewer that the German people had chosen Hitler in a free election. Although some media accounts suggested that the Pope was making an oblique reference to Trump’s election, in fact he spoke about Hitler’s rise to power in the context of a discussion of European affairs.
The Pope acknowledged that Europe faces a crisis because of the number of new migrants. The greatest challenge, he said, is to integrate the new arrivals into an existing society. “The role model for all the world is Sweden,” he said.
Much of the interview with El Pais was devoted to the Pope’s discussion of problems within the Church, and especially the problem of what he characterized as “anesthetized” clerics. “They sell out to mundaneness,” the Pope said. “When that happens, the pastor becomes a civil servant. And that is clericalism, which is the worst evil that may be afflicting today’s Church.”
When questioned about the fears that his pontificate has caused among more conservative Catholics, Pope Francis suggested that his statements and policies have challenged people who had become too comfortable:
I know that those who feel comfortable within a Church structure that doesn’t ask too much of them, or who have attitudes that protect them from too much outside contact, are going to feel uneasy with any change, with any proposal coming from the Gospel.
On other issues, the Pope:
- Reported that Pope-emeritus Benedict remains mentally sharp, although his physical health is deteriorating. “His head is fine. His problem are the legs. He needs help to walk.”
- Indicated that he has no plans to resign, but could do so if he feels that he is weakening. “When I feel that I cannot go on, my great teacher Benedict taught me how to do it.”
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