Greg Burke: Nicolas Seneze of La Croix is coming.
Nicolas Seneze (La Croix): Thanks, Holy Father. We’re returning from Fatima for which the Fraternity of St. Pius X has a great devotion and much is said about an agreement that would give an official statute to the Fraternity in the Church. Some even imagined that there would be an announcement today… Holiness, do you think that this agreement is possible in a short timeframe? And, what are the obstacles still? And what is the sense of this reconciliation for you? And, will it be the triumphant return for faithful who have shown what it means to be truly Catholic or what?
Pope Francis: I would toss out any form of triumphalism. None. Some days ago, the Feria Quarta of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, their meeting - the call it the Feria Quarta, because it’s the fourth Wednesday - studied a document and the document still hasn’t reached me, the study of the document. This is the first. Secondly, the current relations are fraternal. Last year, I gave a license for confession to all of them, also a form of jurisdiction for marriages, but even before the problems, the cases they had, for example, had to be resolved by the Doctrine of the Faith. The Doctrine of the Faith carries them forward. For example, abuses. The cases of abuse, they brought them to us, also to the Penitentiary. Also the reduction to the lay state of a priest, they bring to us. The relations are fraternal. With Msgr. Fellay I have a good rapport. I’ve spoken many times… I don’t like to hurry things. Walk. Walk. Walk. And then we’ll see. For me, it’s not an issue of winners and losers, it’s an issue of brothers who must walk together, looking for a formula to make steps forward.
Tassilo Forcheimer (ARD): Holy Father, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Reformation, Evangelical Christians and Catholics are able to walk another stretch of road together. Will there be the possibility to participate in the same Eucharistic Mass? Some months ago, Cardinal Kasper said: A step forward could take place already this year.
Pope Francis: There have been great steps forward, eh ... we think of the first statement on justification, from that moment the journey has not stopped... the trip to Sweden was very significant because it was just the beginning and also a commemoration with Sweden... also there is significance for the ecumenism of the journey... that is, to walk together, with prayer, with martyrdom, with works of charity, with works of mercy. And there, Lutheran Caritas and Catholic Caritas have made an agreement to work together. This is a great step. But steps are always awaited. You know that God is the God of surprises. But we must never stop. Always go on. To pray together, to give testimony together and to do works of mercy together, that announce the charity of Jesus Christ, to announce that Jesus Christ is Lord, is the only Savior, and that grace only comes from Him. And on this path the theologians they will continue to study, but the path must proceed. And (with) hearts opened to surprises.
Mimmo Muolo (Avvenire): Good evening Holiness. I’m asking you a question in the name of the Italian group. Yesterday and today at Fatima, we saw a great witness of popular faith together with you. The same that is found, for example, also in other Marian shrines like Medjugorje. What do you think of those apparitions, if they were apparition, and of the religious fervor they have aroused seeing that you have decided to appoint a bishop delegate for the pastoral aspects? And if I can permit myself a second question I know is very close to your heart besides that of us italians… I would like to know, the NGOs were accused of collusion with the boat traffickers of men. What do you think of this? Thanks.
Pope Francis: I’ll start with the first. I read in the papers that I peruse in the morning that there was this problem, but I still don’t know how the details are and because of this I can’t give an opinion. I know there is an issue and the investigations are moving ahead. I hope that they continue ahead and that the whole truth comes out. Medjugorje, all the apparitions, or the presumed apparitions, belong to the private sphere, they aren’t part of the public, ordinary magisterium of the Church. Medjugorje. Medjugorje. A commission was formed, headed by Cardinal Ruini. Benedict XVI made it. I, at the end of 2013 the beginning of 2014, I received the result from Cardinal Ruini. It was commission good theologians, bishops, cardinals, but good. Very good. And the commission. The Ruini report was very, very good. Then there were some doubts in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Congregation judged it opportune to send each one of the members of this Feria quarta (Editor’s note: “Feria Quarta” is a once-a-month meeting in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during which current cases are examined) all the documentation, even those that seemed to be against the Ruini report. I received a notification - I remember it was a Saturday evening, late evening… and it didn’t seem right. It was like putting up for auction - excuse me the word - the Ruini report which was very well done. And Sunday morning the prefect received a letter from me that said that instead of sending them to the Feria Quarta, they they would send the opinions to me personally.
These opinions were studied and all of them underscore the density of the Ruini report. Principally, three things must be distinguished: the first apparitions, that they were kids. The report more or less says that it must continue being studied. The apparitions, the presumed current apparitions: the report has its doubts. I personally am more nasty, I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who’s the head of a telegraphic office, who everyday sends a message at such hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus. And these presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value. This I say as a personal opinion. But, it’s clear. Who thinks that the Madonna says, ‘come tomorrow at this time, and at such time I will say a message to that seer?’ No. The two apparitions are distinguished. The third, the core of the Ruini report, the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact. People go there and convert. People who encounter God, change their lives…but this…there is no magic wand there. And this spiritual and pastoral fact can’t be ignored. Now, to see things with all this information, with the answers that the theologians sent me, this good, good bishop was appointed because he has experience, to see the pastoral part, how it’s going. And at the end he’ll say some words.
Muolo: Holiness, thank you, also for the blessing of my fellow citizens who thank you, they saw it and are very happy…
Greg Burke: Holiness, now if I can be the nasty one, we have done all of the language groups and…
Pope Francis: Time is up already?
Greg Burke: There’s a question, they tell me.
Pope Francis: One or two more.
Joshua McElwee (National Catholic Reporter): Thank you, Holy Father. The last member of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, who was abused by a priest, resigned in March. She, Ms. Marie Collins, said that she had to resign because the officials in the Vatican did not implement the recommendations of the commission that you, the Holy Father, approved. I have two questions: who is responsible, and what are you doing, Holy Father, to ensure that the priests and bishops in the Vatican implement the recommendations suggested by your commission?
Pope Francis: Marie Collins explained the matter to me well, I spoke with her, she is a good woman, but she continues to work in the formation of priests on this point... she is a good woman who wants to work ... but she made this accusation, and she has a bit of reason... why? Because there are so many late cases, then in this period of lateness, because they accumulate there, you have to make legislation for this... what should the diocesan bishops do? Today in almost all the dioceses there is the protocol to follow in these cases: it is a great improvement. This way the dossiers are done well. Then there are the accusations...this is a step. Another step: there are few people, there needs to be more people capable in this area, and the Secretary of State is looking for, even Monsignor Mueller (Editor’s Note: Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), to present new people. The other day two or three more were approved... the director of the disciplinary office changed, who was good, eh, he was very good but he was a bit tired... he returned to his home country to do the same with his episcopate. And the new one is an Irishman, Msgr. (John) Kennedy, he is a very good person, very efficient, prompt, and this helps a lot.
Then there is another thing: Sometimes the bishops send - if the protocol is okay, it goes right away to the Feria Quarta and the Feria Quarta studies and decides. If the protocol is not okay, it must go back to be redone. That's why you think of continental help or in a continent or two ... in Latin America, one in Colombia, another in Brazil, as pre-tribunals or continental tribunals... this is in the planning... but then it's fine, they study it at feria quarta and they take away his clerical status. This goes back to the diocese, and the priest makes recourse. First, the application was studied by the same Feria Quarta that had given the sentence, and this is unfair. I created another tribunal and I put an indisputable person as the head, the Archbishop of Malta, Msgr. (Charles Jude) Scicluna, who is one of the strongest against abuses, and this second - because we must be just - the one who makes recourse is entitled to have a defender. If he (the defender) approves the first sentence, the case is over.His only option is a letter asking the Pope for pardon. I have never signed a pardon. I believe, I do not know, another question. This is how things are. We're going forward. If Marie Collins was right on that point, we were also on the way. But there are 2000 cases piled up.
Portuguese journalist: I’m going to ask a question about the case Portugal, but I think that it can be applied to many of the Western societies. In Portugal, almost all of the Portuguese say they identify themselves as Catholics. But the way the society is organized, the decisions that we make, often are contrary to the indications of the Church. I refer to marriage between homosexuals, the legalization of abortion, now we’re going to begin discussing euthanasia. How do you see this?
Pope Francis: I think it’s a political problem. And that also the Catholic conscience isn’t a catholic one of total belonging to the Church and that behind that there isn’t a nuanced catechesis, a human catechesis. That is, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an example of what is a serious and nuanced thing. I think that there is a lack of formation and also of culture. Because it’s curious, in some other regions, I think of the south of Italy, some in Latin America, they are very Catholic but they are anti-clerical and ‘priest-eaters’, that … there is a phenomenon that exists. It concerns me. That’s why I tell priests, you will have read it, to flee from clericalism because clericalism distances people. May they flee from clericalism and I add: it’s a plague in the Church. But here there is a work also of catechesis, of raising awareness, of dialogue, also of human values.