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Pope Francis: “I too know moments of emptiness”

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA
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In another recent interview, Pope Francis speaks about his own experience of spiritual darkness

VATICAN CITY — “I too know moments of emptiness.” In an interview for German newsweekly Die Zeit, Pope Francis spoke about the “spiritual dark moments” in his own life, times when he has said, “Lord, I don’t understand this.”

Asked about how the faithful can help when people experience crises of faith, the Holy Father said, “One cannot grow without crises: in human life, the same thing happens. Even biological growth is a crisis, no? The crisis of a child who becomes an adult. And faith is the same.”

Pope Francis’ admission of his own doubts was perhaps the most striking moment in the interview with Die Ziet’s editor-in-chief, Giovanni di Lorenzo.

“Faith is a gift,” the Pope said when asked how one returns to the faith. One cannot recover one’s faith on one’s own, but must ask it from God: “I ask, and He responds. Sooner or later, eh? But at times, you have to wait, in a crisis.”

The conversation covered a wide range of topics, from the Pope’s devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots; to the vocations crisis (“optional celibacy is not the solution); to the question of whether men are intrinsically good or evil.

The Pontiff spoke once again about what he has called the “Third World War,” being waged piecemeal, drawing attention to ongoing conflicts in Africa, Ukraine, Asia, Iraq, and elsewhere. He spoke, too, about contemporary currents of populism, warning against “a messianism” that always lurks behind such phenomena.

Current events in the Church, including criticisms of Pope Francis, were also touched on in the interview. “I will make a confession about this, a sincere one,” he said. “From the moment I was elected Pope I have never lost my peace. I understand that someone might not like [my] way of acting, and I even justify it: there are so many ways of thinking; it is licit, it is human, and it is even a richness.” In particular, he complimented the “cultured” Roman dialect used in notorious posters that appeared in Rome, accusing the Pope of not being merciful.

“It’s good that you can laugh at these things,” his interviewer said, to which Pope Francis responded, “But of course! [It’s] one of the things I pray for each day, with the prayer of St Thomas More: I ask for a sense of humour.”

The conversation ended with a discussion of possible future travels, with the Holy Father confirming his plans to visit India, Bangladesh and Colombia, as well as Fatima in Portugal. He said, however, that a hoped-for trip to South Sudan might not be possible after all.

Pope Francis concluded the interview with an apology: “I’m sorry if I haven’t met your expectations… Pray for me!”

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