Rome (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis "would love to go to China," which has "a great culture and a lot of good things”. The Pope himself said as much in his long question and answer session with journalists during the flight from Philadelphia to Rome, which arrived at 10 am local time.
Many topics were discussed; from the changes to the process of marriage annulments which he stated is "not a Catholic divorce" - "when the marriage is a sacrament, it is indissoluble and the Church cannot change this" - communion for divorced - "seems to me rather simplistic to say that the solution for these people is the chance to take communion. It is not the only solution”; the walls against immigrants -"all the walls collapse: today, tomorrow or in one hundred years"; conscientious objection which is " a human right" to child abuse," almost a sacrilege "and understanding for those who will not forgive priests.
Pope Francis views China as " is a great nation that offers the world a great culture, so many good things. I said once on the plane when were flying over China when we were coming back from Korea that I would very much like so much to go to China. I love the Chinese people and I hope there is possibility of having good relations, good relations. We’re in contact, we talk, we are moving forward but for me, having a friend of a great country like China, which has so much culture and has so much opportunity to do good, would be a joy".
Regarding the reform of the Code of Canon Law, the next synod of bishops and of the divorced and remarried. Francis said that “In the reform of the procedure and the way, I closed the door to the administrative path, which was the path through which divorce could have entered. You could say that those who think this is 'Catholic divorce' are wrong because this last document has closed the door to divorce by which it could have entered. It would have been easier with the administrative path. There will always be the judicial path. ... This was called for by the majority of the Synod fathers in the synod last year: streamline the process because there are cases that last 10-15 years, no? There’s one sentence, then another sentence, and after there's an appeal, there's the appeal then another appeal. It never ends. The double sentence, when it was valid that there was an appeal, was introduced by Papa Lambertini, Benedict XIV, because in central Europe, I won’t say which country, there were some abuses, and to stop it he introduced this but it's not something essential to the process. The procedure changes, jurisprudence changes, it gets better. At that time it was urgent to do this, then Pius X wanted to streamline and made some changes but he didn’t have the time or the possibility to do it. The Synod fathers asked for it, the speeding up of the annulment processes. And I stop there. This document, this ‘motu proprio’ facilitates the processes and the timing, but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament. And this the Church cannot change. It's doctrine. It’s an indissoluble sacrament. The legal trial is to prove that what seemed to be a sacrament wasn't a sacrament, for lack of freedom for example, or for lack of maturity, or for mental illness. There are so many reasons that bring about (an annulment), after a study, an investigation. That there was no sacrament. For example, that the person wasn't free. Another example: now it’s not so common but in some sectors of common society at least in Buenos Aires, there were weddings when the woman got pregnant: 'you have to get married.' In Buenos Aires, I counselled my priests, strongly, I almost prohibited them to celebrate weddings in these conditions. We called them “speedy weddings”, eh? (They were) to cover up appearances. And the babies are born, and some work out but there's no freedom and then things go wrong little by little they separate (and say) 'I was forced to get married because we had to cover up this situation” and this is a reason for nullity. So many of them.
Cases of nullity, you have, you can find them (the reasons) on the internet there all there are many, eh? Then, the issue of the second weddings, the divorcees, who make a new union. You read what, you have the “instrumentum laboris.” what is put in discussion seems a bit simplistic to me to say that the Synod is the solution for these people and that they can have communion. That's not the only solution. No, what the “Instrumentum laboris” proposes is a lot more, and also the problem of the new unions of divorcees isn't the only problem. In the “Instrumentum laboris” there are many. For example, young people don’t get married. They don’t want to get married. It's a pastoral problem for the Church. Another problem: the affective maturity for a marriage. Another problem: faith. 'Do I believe that this is for ever? Yes, yes, yes, I believe.' 'But do you believe it?' the preparation for a wedding: I think so often that to become a priest there's a preparation for 8 years, and then, its not definite, the Church can take the clerical state away from you. But, for something lifelong, they do four courses! 4 times… Something isn't right. It’s something the Synod has to deal with: how to do preparation for marriage. It’s one of the most difficult things. There are many problems, they're all are listed in the “Instrumentum laboris.” But, I like that you asked the question about 'Catholic divorce.' That doesn't exist. Either it wasn't a marriage, and this is nullity -- it didn't exist. And if it did, it's indissoluble."
As for the migration crisis in Europe, “It’s become a state of crisis after a long process. For years, this process has exploded because wars for which those people leave and flee are wars waged for years. Hunger. It’s hunger for years. When I think of Africa… this is a bit simplistic. But I see it as an example. It comes to me to think about Africa, “the exploited continent.” They went to pick up the slaves there, then its great resources. It’s the exploited continent. And, now the wars, tribal or not. But they have economic interests behind them. And, I think that instead of exploiting a continent or a nation, make investments there instead so the people are able to work and this crisis would have been avoided. It’s true, as I said at Congress, it’s a refugee crisis not seen since World War II. It’s the biggest. You asked me about barriers. You know what happens to all walls. All of them. All walls fall. Today, tomorrow or in 100 years, they will fall. It’s not a solution. The Wall isn’t a solution. In this moment, Europe is in difficulty, it’s true. We have to be intelligent. We must find solutions. We must encourage dialogue between different nations, to find them. Walls are never solutions. But bridges are, always, always. I don’t know. What I think is that walls can last a little time or a long time. The problem remains but it also remains with more hatred.. "
To a question about abuse and "compassion" offered to American bishops, Francis replied, explaining that “In Washington I spoke to all the US bishops… they were all there no? I felt the need to express compassion because something really terrible happened. And many of them suffered who did not know of this. I used words from the bible from Apocalypse: You are coming from a large tribulation. What happened was a great tribulation. But also the suffering (emotional). What I said today to the victims of abuse. I wouldn’t say an apotheosis but almost a sacrilege. We know abuses are everywhere: in families, in neighborhoods, in schools, in gyms. But when a priest abuses it is very serious because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy, that girl, grow towards the love of God, toward maturity, and towards good. Instead this is squashed and this is nearly a sacrilege and he betrayed his vocation, the calling of the Lord. For this reason the Church is strong on this and one must not cover these things up. Those who covered this up are guilty. Even some bishops who covered this up, It is a terrible thing and the words of comfort were not to say: ”Don’t worry that was nothing… no, no, no even some bishops who covered this up, It’s a terrible thing and the words of comfort were not to say “don’t worry that was nothing…no, no , no, but it was so bad that I imagine that you cried hard".
And, he added, in reply to another question, " If a person has done wrong, is conscious of what he has done and does not say sorry, I ask God to take him into account. I forgive him, but he does not receive that forgiveness, he is closed to forgiveness. We must forgive, because we were all forgiven. It is another thing to receive that forgiveness. If that priest is closed to forgiveness, he won’t receive it, because he locked the door from the inside. And what remains is to pray for the Lord to open that door. To forgive you must be willing. But not everyone can receive or know how to receive it, or are just not willing to receive it. What I’m saying is hard. And that is how you explain how there are people who finish their life hardened, badly, without receiving the tenderness of God. Once, in one of these meetings, I met several people and I met a woman who told me “When my mother found out that I had been abused, she became blasphemous, she lost her faith and she died an atheist.” I understand that woman. I understand here. And God who is even better than me, understands her. And I’m sure that that woman has been received by God. Because what was abused, destroyed, was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter. I understand her. I don’t judge someone who can’t forgive. I pray and I ask God… God is a champion in finding paths of solutions. I ask him to fix it".
Once again on the subject of women priests: "On on women priests, that cannot be done. Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly. Not because women don’t have the capacity. Look, in the Church women are more important than men, because the church is a woman. It is “la” church, not “il” church. The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than popes and bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in an elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true".
And finally, the Pope and the US has become a star. " Do you know what the title was of the Pope that ought to be used? Servant of the servants of God. It’s a little different from the stars. Stars are beautiful to look at. I like to look at them in the summer when the sky is clear. But the Pope must be, must be the servant of the servants of God. Yes, in the media this is happening but there’s another truth. How many stars have we seen that go out and fall. It is a fleeting thing. On the other hand, being servant of the servants of God is something that doesn’t pass”.