Pope Francis gave his first interview to a television talk show Sunday night, asking viewers who do not pray to send him “good thoughts, good vibes.”

Speaking with Italy’s most popular prime-time talk show, Che Tempo Che Fa, the pope said that he needed prayers and closeness right now.

“Pray for me, I need it. And if some of you don’t pray because you don’t believe, don’t know how, or can’t, at least send me good thoughts, good vibes,” Pope Francis said Feb. 6.

“I need that closeness from the people,” he added during the program, which had a peak audience of 8.75 million viewers.

Che Tempo Che Fa (what the weather is like) often airs live interviews with politicians, celebrities, artists, and athletes. Recent guests on the program include former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2021 and Lady Gaga.

Pope Francis spoke with the TV program, which is recorded in Milan, northern Italy, remotely from the Vatican.

Pope Francis speaks in an interview with the Italian TV talk show Che Tempo Che Fa on Feb. 6, 2022. Screenshot
Pope Francis speaks in an interview with the Italian TV talk show Che Tempo Che Fa on Feb. 6, 2022. Screenshot

The hourlong interview covered topics from environmental protection to the pope’s childhood in Argentina.

Pope Francis told the TV host Fabio Fazio that he did not feel that he was holy enough to live in the Apostolic Palace.

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“That’s one of the reasons why I chose not to live in the papal apartment, because the popes who were there before were saints, and I couldn’t have done it. I’m not that holy,” he said.

“I need human relationships — that’s why I live in the hotel, Santa Marta, where there are people who talk to everyone, you find friends. It’s an easier life for me.”

During the interview, the pope made a heartfelt plea to end the production and sale of weapons.

“Think that in a year without making weapons, you could give food and education to the whole world for free,” Pope Francis said.

“We see how economies are mobilized and what is most important today is war: ideological warfare, of power, trade warfare, and lots of arms factories,” he said.

“War is always destruction,” he added.

When Fazio asked the pope why the innocent suffer, Pope Francis said that he was himself scandalized in the face of children’s suffering.

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“‘Why do children suffer?’ I find no explanation for this. I have faith, I try to love God who is my Father, but I ask myself: ‘But why do children suffer?’ … Hatred, destruction are in the hands of another who sowed evil in the world through envy,” the pope said, adding that God allowed his own Son to be killed.

“It is perhaps a mystery that we do not understand well, but in the relationship of God the Father with his Son, we can see well what is in the heart of God when these things happen. God is strong, he is omnipotent in love,” he said.

“And when this temptation comes to you: ‘Why do children suffer?’ I find only one way: to suffer with them. And for me, Dostoevsky was a great teacher in this,” Francis added, referring to the Russian author of “Crime and Punishment” and “The Brothers Karamazov.”

While speaking to the TV audience, the pope made it clear that he does not watch television himself.

“Yes, I don’t watch television. This is not because I condemn it, but it is a decision I made for the Lord when He asked me,” Francis said.

The pope also clarified that the reason he recently visited a record store in Rome was not to buy an album, but to bless the shop.

“It's true that I listen to music … I also like tango a lot,” he added.