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“Christmas of war”: Don’t spend money as if nothing is happening, Pope urges

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Hugues Lefèvre - Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 12/19/22

In his 14th interview of 2022, Pope Francis talks about the consequences of war, reforms in the Vatican, and more.

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In an interview granted to the Italian TV channel Canale 5 and broadcast on Sunday evening, Pope Francis expressed his sadness over the state of the world today which, on Christmas Eve, will be suffering the consequences of various wars. He also briefly touched on themes such as the demographic winter in Italy, his reform of the Vatican’s economic structures, and corruption in European institutions. 

In this interview with the Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, the Pope began by deploring the “madness” of war that “always destroys.” Citing firstly the war in Ukraine, the Pontiff again spoke of a “third world war in pieces,” referring also to conflicts in Myanmar, Yemen, and Africa. 

The Argentine Pontiff reminded the audience that “everything is connected,” as he highlighted the consequences of these various wars on the world’s population. “Soaring prices” and families that can no longer afford their bills are some of the situations he cited.

With this dark context in mind, Pope Francis’ called the current period a “sad Christmas, a Christmas of war.” 

“Please measure Christmas spending,” he also asked, repeating the appeal he had made at the general audience on December 14. “Please have a big heart and don’t buy as if nothing is happening,” he pleaded during the interview, while also asking viewers to not remain indifferent before “people who are dying of hunger.”

In answering a question about corruption, as certain members of the European Parliament have recently been involved in a bribery and money laundering case, Pope Francis did not go into details but spoke of a “scandal.”

“How come, with the need in Europe for so many things, these people who are in the administration slip into corruption in this way?,” the Pontiff wondered. 

An appeal to overcome the Italian demographic winter

Concerning the demographic winter that has affected Italy for years, Pope Francis again praised countries “like France, [which] have taken very good pro-family measures.”

In the Peninsula in 2020, the birth rate was 1.24 per woman, and this has been an issue long worrying Pope Francis.

The Bishop of Rome also emphasized that it is important to fight against a culture that enables a boss to fire a woman when she gets pregnant.

“So many women can’t find jobs because employers are afraid they will get pregnant,” he lamented, arguing that a child is not “a threat” but “a blessing.”

“I say to the Italians, please have children. The country needs children, please. Less selfishness,” he appealed.

Still work to be done in the Vatican

As Pope Francis’ approaches his 10th anniversary as pontiff on March 13, in the interview he affirmed that there are “still things to be done.” One of the most visible progresses of his pontificate, he said, is the “economic cleansing” that has taken place in the Vatican.  

He praised the work of Australian Cardinal George Pell, who initiated the economic reforms before having to return to Australia to defend himself against accusations of sexual abuse of two children in the 1990s. He was acquitted in November 2019, after having been initially convicted in 2018 and incarcerated.

In the interview, Pope Francis did not hesitate to deplore the “calumny” suffered by the Cardinal. “He is a great man and we owe him many things,” he insisted. 

14 interviews of 2022

This exchange with Canale 5 was the Pope’s 14th interview of 2022. On Sunday morning Spanish media outlet ABC had also published an interview with the Pontiff.

He has given six other interviews to Italian media outlets: to the national daily Il Corriere della Sera (May 3); to the Neapolitan daily Il Mattino (September 18); to the Turin daily La Stampa (November 18); to the TV Channel Rai Tre in the popular talk show Che tempo che fa (February 6); to the TV Channel Rai Uno in the program A Sua Immagine (April 15); and to the same channel on Easter Sunday (April 17). 

The Argentine pontiff was also interviewed by journalists working for two of his country’s media outlets : the daily La Nacion (April 21) and the national press agency Telam (July 1).

The Portuguese TV station TVI (September 4-5) also interviewd him. In addition to an interview with the directors of various national Jesuit magazines, published by La Civilta Cattolica, on June 14, the Pope also spoke to the British press agency Reuters (July 4-8) and the Jesuit media outlet America (November 28).

Tags:
ChristmasInterviewsPope FrancisWar
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