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The Pope on TV: “Do you have real friends?” he’s asked

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FABIO FAZIO PAPA FRANCESCO

ANDREA DIODATO / NURPHOTO / NURPHOTO VIA AFP/ Antoine Mekary

Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz - Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 02/07/22

Pope Francis addressed everything from war as an "anti-sense" of creation to dancing the tango. Highlights here:

Pope Francis spoke on friendship, a sense of humor, war, the suffering of innocents, and a range of other themes when he appeared on an Italian broadcast network with a pre-recorded interview Sunday night, February 6.

He was interviewed from his residence at Casa Santa Marta by the Italian journalist Fabio Fazio, from Milan, for Rai-3’s Che Tempo Che Fa program.

While a main theme of the interview was the migrant crisis facing Europe and the world, the conversation also turned to personal matters.

“Do you ever feel lonely?” Mr Fazio asked, for example. “Do you have real friends?”

Pope Francis answered affirmatively: “Yes, I have friends who help me; they know my life like a normal guy — […] and I like to be with my friends, sometimes to tell them my concerns, [sometimes] to listen to theirs, but really, I need friends. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t go to live in the papal apartments, because the popes who were there before were saints, but me not so much, I’m not that much of a saint. I need human relationships, that’s why I live in this residence of Santa Marta where you find people who talk with everyone, you find friends. It’s an easier life for me; I don’t feel up to the other one; I don’t have the strength and friendships give me strength. I actually need friends, they aren’t many, but they’re true friends.”

As he’s shared before, he thinks a good sense of humor is key, and he has a favorite prayer to St. Thomas More for this intention. “I’ve prayed it for 40 years. A sense of humor is medicine. A sense of humor makes you relativize things and gives you a lot of joy. It does so much good.”

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

How to pray

At one point, Pope Francis stressed the importance of prayer. “Praying is what a child does when he feels limited, powerless,” he said, like a child calling out “Daddy, Mommy.” Praying, the Pope said, means recognizing “our limits, our needs, our sins…. To pray is to enter with strength, beyond the limits, beyond the horizon, and for us Christians, to pray is to encounter ‘Papa.’”

“The child,” insisted the Pope, “does not wait for Daddy’s answer; when the dad begins to answer, he goes on to another question. What the child wants is for his father’s gaze to be on him. It doesn’t matter what the explanation is, it only matters that Papa is looking at him, and that gives him security. Praying is a bit of all this.”

The greatest evil facing the Church

Today “the greatest evil facing the Church, the greatest,” Pope Francis said emphatically, “is spiritual worldliness.”

He warned against two ancient heresies still present today.

Pelagianism and Gnosticism. Pelagianism, he explained, “is believing that I can go forward through my own power.” But in fact, he said, “the Church goes forward with the strength of God, the mercy of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Gnosticism he described as a kind of mysticism, “without God,” an “empty spirituality.”

Why do children suffer?

“I have never known how to answer this question,” he said. “I don’t have an answer for this. There isn’t an answer.”

He spoke of how destruction and hate is in the hands of “the other,” meaning Satan. “Jesus never dialogues with the devil: Either he sends him away or he responds with the Bible. He responded to him three times with Sacred Scripture, and this is valid for every temptation.

“But to the question of why children suffer, I only find the answer of suffering with them. Dostoevsky was right in this.”

The Pope also insisted on parents being close to their children.

“When young couples come to confession or when I talk to them, I always ask a question: ‘Do you play with your children?’ That generosity of dad and mum with the child.”

He said parents can’t be “afraid” of what their children will say or their questions. And even older children need this closeness: “an adolescent when they slip up, speaking to them as a father, as a mother.”

War

Pope Francis said that war is somehow a “contradiction of creation,” going back to Genesis, between Cain and Abel, and the Tower of Babel.

“Wars between brothers” appeared shortly after God’s creation of man and woman, he said. “There is something like an ‘anti-sense’ of creation; that is why war is always destruction. For example, to work the land, to look after children, to raise a family, to make society grow: this is building. To wage war is to destroy. It is a mechanics of destruction.”

The Holy Father lamented how much is spent on weapons: “With one year without producing weapons, the whole world could be fed and educated, but this stays in second place.”

4 Words to guide migrants

“The fact that the Mediterranean is the biggest cemetery of Europe should make us reflect,” the Pope said, urging a European response to this “criminal” situation.

The Holy Father reiterated that in Libya, the migrants are in lagers (concentration camps). “I use this word seriously. Lagers in Libya.”

Countries have to evaluate how many immigrants they can receive, he said. Nations should work together, so that the closest countries – Spain and Italy – aren’t the only ones facing the issue.

The migrant must always be welcomed, accompanied, promoted and integrated. “Welcomed because there are difficulties, then [there is a need of] accompanying, promoting, and integrating them into society.” Above all, he insisted, it is necessary to integrate them into the receiving countries to avoid ghettoization and extremism born of ideologies.

Music and dance

Pope Francis shared that he loves music: “I like classics, but I also like tango a lot.”

“I am a man from Buenos Aires (un porteño) and what kind of Buenos Aires native would I be if I didn’t dance the tango?” he said.

The Pope shared his recent adventure at a Roman record store.

“I didn’t go there to buy. The people there are friends from years ago, and they fixed up the store, and I went to bless it … At night, dark. They said no one would be there, but that day, there was a journalist there, who was waiting for a friend to catch a taxi … that’s why the news got out.”

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