The interviewer said, "I do not believe in the soul." Pope Francis replied, "You do not believe in it but you have one."
Yet another interview with Pope Francis was released today, this one published by La Repubblica and given by it's founder, Eugenio Scalfari. This interview is different than his last one in at least two important respects. First, this one is not as long. Second, this one is an interview with a unbeliever, whereas the last interview was given by a Catholic. An English translation of the full interview can be found on the La Repubblica website.
Here are the top 10 most important quotes from the interview:
– Youth unemployment and improper care of the elderly are two of the most urgent problems in our world today:
"To a large extent that awareness is there, but not sufficiently. I want it to be more so. It is not the only problem that we face, but it is the most urgent and the most dramatic."
– On proselytism:
"It is love of others, as our Lord preached. It is not proselytizing, it is love. Love for one's neighbor, that leavening that serves the common good."
Your Holiness, you said that you have no intention of trying to convert me and I do not think you would succeed.
"We cannot know that, but I don't have any such intention."
"I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace."
– Pope Francis calls the court of the Vatican "the leporsy of the papacy":
Many church leaders have been.
"You know what I think about this? Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy."
The leprosy of the papacy, those were his exact words. But what is the court? Perhaps he is alluding to the curia?
"No, there are sometimes courtiers in the curia, but the curia as a whole is another thing. It is what in an army is called the quartermaster's office, it manages the services that serve the Holy See. But it has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I'll do everything I can to change it."
– On liberation theology:
"[My teacher's] materialism had no hold over me. But learning about it through a courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized a few things, an aspect of the social, which I then found in the social doctrine of the Church."
Liberation theology, which Pope John Paul II excommunicated, was widespread in Latin America.
"Yes, many of its members were Argentines."
Do you think it was right that the Pope fought against them?
"It certainly gave a political aspect to their theology, but many of them were believers and with a high concept of humanity."
– He says he had a mystical experience after being elected pope:
– Everyone has a soul, even if the person doesn't believe in the soul:
"No one can know that. Grace is not part of consciousness, it is the amount of light in our souls, not knowledge nor reason. Even you, without knowing it, could be touched by grace."
Without faith? A non-believer
"Grace regards the soul."
I do not believe in the soul.
"You do not believe in it but you have one."
– Why he loves St Francis of Assisi, and how the Franciscan order is a model for the Church:
"Francis wanted a mendicant order and an itinerant one. Missionaries who wanted to meet, listen, talk, help, to spread faith and love. Especially love. And he dreamed of a poor Church that would take care of others, receive material aid and use it to support others, with no concern for itself. 800 years have passed since then and times have changed, but the ideal of a missionary, poor Church is still more than valid. This is still the Church that Jesus and his disciples preached about."
– He wants to implement Vatican II's vision of dialogue:
– On the need to reform the hierarchy:
"In fact, that is the way it is, and in this area you cannot perform miracles. Let me remind you that even Francis in his time held long negotiations with the Roman hierarchy and the Pope to have the rules of his order recognized. Eventually he got the approval but with profound changes and compromises."
Will you have to follow the same path?
"I'm not Francis of Assisi and I do not have his strength and his holiness. But I am the Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic world. The first thing I decided was to appoint a group of eight cardinals to be my advisers. Not courtiers but wise people who share my own feelings. This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal. When Cardinal Martini talked about focusing on the councils and synods he knew how long and difficult it would be to go in that direction. Gently, but firmly and tenaciously."
– He says he doesn't like classical economic liberalism: