Rome (AsiaNews) - On the flight that took him home this afternoon from
Seoul to Rome, Pope Francis answered questions from journalists. When, as now in Iraq, there is "an unjust aggression", it is "lawful" to halt the aggressor. However, "I am not saying bombing, making war, but halting him," a decision
that must be taken by the United Nations, which includes the means to do it. In
view of this, Pope Francis said he was "available" to go
to Kurdistan "if necessary".
the long conversation, the pontiff also expressed his "desire"
to go to China and reiterated his "respect" for the
Chinese people. "The Church only asks freedom for its ministry and work, without
conditions," he explained. "Let us not
forget the fundamental letter about the
Chinese problem, the
one Pope Benedict XVI sent to the Chinese. The letter still matters today."
Speaking about his relationship with Pope Benedict
XVI, Pope Francis
said that he already believes that "Pope emeritus is already an
institution, because our life is getting
longer and at a certain age
we lose the ability to govern well,
as the body gets tired . . . Then one's health may be good but we may no longer be able to bear all the
problems of a government like that
of the Church . . . Pope Benedict
made the choice [to retire]. Perhaps some
theologians will tell me that that
was not right, but that is how I
think. Time will tell whether this was [right] or not. If I felt I could not go on, I would do the same."
to a question about the "gruelling pace"
of his commitments,
Francis said he should
be "more cautious". Speaking about his popularity, he said, "I know it will last for as long as I last - two or three years - and then . . . to the house of the
Many questions were asked about trips already in
the works or those that might be possible. In this regard, Pope Francis stressed
the importance of his visit to
Albania, scheduled for 21 September.
am going to Albania for
two important reasons," he said. "Firstly, because
here they were able to set up a government of
national unity- this is the Balkans - with Muslims, Orthodox, and Catholics as well as an
interreligious council that helps a lot and is balanced.
This is good, well adjusted. I felt my presence
would be of help to that the noble people.
"The other reason is this. Think about the
history of Albania, the only Communist nation that included practicing atheism
in its constitution. Going to church was unconstitutional! One
of the ministers told me - I want to be precise about the figure
- 1,820 churches, Orthodox and Catholic, were destroyed. At that
time, other churches
were turned into cinemas, theatres, dance halls. I felt I
had to go, and one day I shall.
I would like go to Philadelphia for the [World] Meeting of Families. I have also
been invited by the President of the United States to the US parliament
[Congress], and also by the Secretary of the United
Nations to New York. Perhaps [I
shall travel to] all three cities: Philadelphia, Washington
and New York. The
Mexicans want on this occasion that
I also go to Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico City). We could take advantage [of
this opportunity], but I am not sure. And at the end,
there is Spain. The royals have
invited me, the Bishops' Conference has invited me; there
are scores of invitations to go to Spain . . . Maybe it is possible. We can go in the morning, we can
go in the afternoon, it would be possible,
but nothing has been decided."
The Pope addressed the Iraq issue
in response to a question about "aggression
by ISIS against Christian minorities in
Iraq and American
like this," said the pontiff, "in which there is unjust aggression, I can only say that it is lawful
to 'halt' the unjust aggressor. I emphasize the word 'halt'. I am not saying bombing,
making war, but halting him. The means by which one can
halt him should be evaluated. Halting
the unjust aggressor is
legitimate. But we should keep in
mind how many times with this
excuse of halting the unjust
aggressor, powerful nations have overrun peoples and engaged
in real wars of conquest. A single
nation cannot judge how to halt an unjust
"After the Second world War came the idea of the
United Nations. That is where we must discuss [the
issue] and say if there is an unjust aggressor? If that is the case, then
how do we stop him? Only this, and
"Secondly, minorities. Thank you for using
that word. Because I hear about Christians,
those who suffer, martyrs. And yes, there are many martyrs. But here there are men and
women, religious minorities, not all Christians, and all are equal before God.
Halting the unjust aggressor is a right that humanity possesses, one whereby the aggressor can be halted so that he no
Pope also spoke about his upcoming encyclical about
safeguarding creation. He said he asked Cardinal Turkson
"to collect all the contributions
that were sent in. Before the trip, the
cardinal gave me the
a difficult problem because on the stewardship of Creation, ecology also - there's a human ecology - one can speak with some confidence only up to a certain point. There are scientific hypotheses, some quite certain, others that are not. An encyclical that must be magisterial must go forward
only on safe grounds, on the things that are certain.
"If the Pope says that the earth and not the sun is at centre of the
universe, he would be wrong because he would be saying
something that is scientifically wrong. Hence, what is happening now is that we
must study [the draft] paragraph by paragraph. It think it
will be more concise because we
need to go to what is essential, to what we can say with certainty. We can put in footnotes this or that hypothesis, but not as information, not in the body [of
the text], which will be doctrinal and must be certain."
In a final
thought for Korea, the pontiff spoke about this morning's Mass and the so-called
women. "The Korean people," he said, "have not lost their dignity"
despite being "invaded, humiliated, suffered wars, and (are) now divided with
"Yesterday when I went to the meeting with young people, I visited the Martyrs' Museum.
How horrible was the suffering of
those people." They were martyred "simply for not wanting to step on the cross. It was
an historic suffering. This people can suffer; it
is part of its dignity. Even today, those
elderly women were in the front [pew] during Mass.
Just imagine that after the invasion these
young women were taken away, to barracks, to be exploited. [And yet] They did not
lose their dignity. Today they were there, showing
their faces, in their old age, the last ones. [The Korean] people is strong
in its dignity.
to the issue of the martyrs, suffering, and these
women. These are the fruits of war!
And today we are in
a world at war, everywhere! Someone
said to me, 'You know Father that we are
in World War III, but piecemeal, in chapters. It is a world war where cruelties are
committed. Let me focus on two
"The first is cruelty. At present, children do not count! Once
there was talk about conventional war, now this does not count. I am not saying that conventional wars are
a good thing. No! But today the bomb kills the innocent along
with the guilty,
children along with women, mothers. It kills
everyone. But should we not think about the level of
cruelty that we have reached? This should scare us. I do not
want to frighten, [but] the level of cruelty of humanity at present is a bit scary.
other word is torture.
Today, torture one might say is almost
an ordinary means used by intelligence services and
in some judicial trials.
. . . Torture is a sin against humanity, a
crime against humanity. To
Catholics I say torturing a
person is a mortal sin, it is a grave sin. But it is more:
it is a sin against humanity.
"Cruelty and torture.
I would love you in
media to think about humanity's level
of cruelty today about your own thoughts vis-à-vis torture. I
think we should all reflect on