Stefania Falasca, Avvenire: Good evening, Father.
Pope Francis: Good evening.
Falasca: You said also today that it is always a challenge to welcome migrants and the foreigner. Well, precisely yesterday a painful matter was resolved, that of the Diciotti ship. Is your hoof behind this solution? What was your involvement?
Pope Francis: The paw of the devil.
Falasca: Yes, then the second question: many in Europe see extortion on the backs of these people. What do you think?
Pope Francis: The welcoming of migrants is something as old as the bible. It's in Deuteronomy, in the Commandments. God commands welcoming the migrant, the foreigner. It's so old that it is in the spirit of revelation but also in the spirit of Christianity. It's a moral principle. I spoke about this. Then, I saw that I needed to bit a bit more explicit because it's not a welcoming with the "Belle etoile," no! It should be a reasonable welcoming. That's why Europe is all in this. And when did I realize how this reasonable welcome must be? When there was the terrorist attack in Zaventem (Editor's note: the Brussels Airport), that that young men, the guerillas that made the attack on Zaventem were Belgians, but sons of migrants, not integrated, from ghettoes! That is, they were received by the country and left there, and they made a ghetto. They were not integrated. Then I remembered when I went to Sweden, and Franca (Editor's note: Franca Giansoldati, Vatican correspondent for il Messaggero) in an article mentioned this, of how I explicitly made this though and when I went to Sweden, I knew it, I spoke about integration, as it was, because I knew because during the dictatorship in Argentina, from 1976 to 1983, many, many Argentinians and also many Uruguayans escaped to Sweden and there the government would integrate them immediately. It taught them the language, gave them a job and integrated them. To the point that, this is an interesting anecdote, a Minister who came to bid me farewell at the airport in Lund was the daughter of a Swedish and an African immigrant. This African migrant was so integrated to the extent that his daughter became a minister. Sweden was a model. But in that moment Sweden was beginning to have difficulties, not because it did not have the good will for this, but because it didn't have the possibility of integration. This was the reason for which Sweden stopped for a bit. (After this step of integration) And then, I spoke during the press conference among you about the virtue of prudence, the virtue of the government. I spoke about the prudence of peoples, about the number or the possibility. A people that can receive but does not have the means to integrate [migrants], it's better not to receive them. There, there is the issue of prudence. And I believe that this is the real core of the dialogue today in the European Union. We must continue to speak. Solutions will be found.
What happened with the Diciotti? I didn't put my "paw" there. He who did the work with the minister of the interior was Fr. Aldo (Editor's note: Fr. Aldo Bonaiuto, member of the Association "Giovanni XXIII"), the good Fr. Aldo that continues the work of Fr. Benzi, who the Italians know well, who work of liberating prostitutes, those that are exploited… The Italian Bishops' Conference also was part. Cardinal Bassetti was there, but at the telephone, he guided everything by way of one of his two under-secretaries, Fr. Maffeis (Fr. Ivan Maffeis, director of communications) negotiated with the minister. And I believe that he went to Albania. Albania, Ireland took a number. Montenegro, I think not. I'm not sure. The others were picked up by the Conference, I don't know if under the umbrella of the Vatican or not, I don't know how it was negotiated there, and they're going to a better world at Rocca di Papa (Editor's note: an Italian town near Rome). They will be welcomed there. The number I believe that it is more than 100 and there they will begin to learn the language and to do that work that is done with integrated migrants. I've had an experience that was very gratifying for me. When I went to Roma Tre (University), there were students that wanted to ask me questions and I saw a student that "I know this face." (Nour Essa, see story here, editor note), and it was one that had come with me among the 13 I brought back from Lesbos. And that girl was at the university because Sant'Egidio from the day after at school, to study, had integrated her at a university level. This is the work with migrants. There is an openness of heart for everyone, suffering, then integration as a condition for welcoming and then the prudence of those who govern for doing this. I have seen a clandestinely made film of the things that happen to those who are sent back. They are taken by the traffickers. Painful, the things that they do to the men... the women and the children, out! They sell them. But to the men, they do the most sophisticated torture. There was one there that was capable, a spy, of making that film that I sent to my two under-secretaries for immigration (Editor's note: Fr. Michael Czerny and Fr. Fabio Baggio, undersecretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section). For this, to send them back you have to think well. Then, one last thing: there are these migrants that come, but there are also those who are tricked at Fiumicino. They are tricked. "We give you work, they give you documents." And they end up on the sidewalk enslaved, under threat from traffickers of women. That's it.
Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. Let's go to the question from the English-speaking group. Anna Matranga from the American television, CBS.
Anna Matranga, CBS: Good evening, Holy Father. I'll return to the subject of sex abuse about which you've already spoken. This morning, very early, a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano' came out. In it, he says that in 2013 he had a personal talk with you at the Vatican, and that in that talk, he spoke to you explicitly of the behavior of and the sexual abuse by former-Cardinal McCarrick. I wanted to ask you if this was true. I also wanted to ask something else: the Archbishop also said that Pope Benedict sanctioned McCarrick, that he had forbidden him to live in a seminary, to celebrate Mass in public, he couldn't travel, he was sanctioned by the Church. May I ask you whether these two things are true?
Pope Francis: I will respond to your question, but I would prefer last first we speak about the trip, and then other topics. I was distracted by Stefania, but I will respond.
I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested. Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It's an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak. But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you. That's good. (inaudible)
Matranga: Marie Collins said that after she met you during the victims gathering, that she spoke with you precisely about ex-Cardinal McCarrick. She said you were very tough in your condemnation of McCarrick. I want to ask you, when was the first time that you heard talk about the abuses committed the former cardinal?
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Pope Francis: This is part of the statement about McCarrick. Study it and then I will say. Yesterday, I had not read it but I permitted myself to speak clearly with Marie Collins and the group, it was really an hour-and-a-half, something which made me suffer a lot. But, I believe it was necessary to listen to these 8 people and from this meeting came the proposal. I made it, the others accepted and they helped me to do it, to ask forgiveness today in the Mass. But, in concrete things. The last thing. I had never heard about those mothers, they called it the women's laundry, when an unmarried woman got pregnant she went to the hospital, I don't know what the school was called, and the sisters said that and then they gave the child away in adoption to people. There were two sons from that time, they tried to find their mothers, if they were alive. And they would tell them that it was a mortal sin to do this, and to the mothers who called for their children also it was a mortal sin. For this reason, today I finished by saying that this is not a mortal sin but it's the fourth commandment. And the things that I said today some I didn't know (before). It was painful for me but I also had the consolation of being able to help clear these things up. I await your comment on the document, I would like that. Thanks.
Greg Burke: Thanks, Holy Father. Now, Cecile Chambraud of Le Monde.
Cecile Chambraud, Le Monde: Good evening, Holy Father. I hope you don't mind if I pose my question in Spanish. I ask you to reply in Italian for all of the colleagues. In your speech in Ireland, you refer to your recent letter to the people of God. In that letter, you call all Catholics to take part in the fight against abuses in the Church. Can you provide details for us what concretely Catholics can do each in their place to fight against these abuses and on this theme, in France, a priest has started a petition for the removal of Cardinal Barbarin accused by victims. Does this initiative appear adequate to you or not?
Pope Francis: If there are suspicions, proofs or half-proofs, I do not see anything bad in making an investigation, but always that is done according to the fundamental juridical principal of "nemo malus nisi probetur" - No one is evil until it is proven. But many times there is the temptation not just to do the investigation but to publish that there is an investigation and why he's culpable and so some media – not yours, I don't know yours – to create a climate of culpability. I will tell you something that happened to me in these days that can help with this… because for me it is important how you proceed, how the media can help. Three years ago, more or less, the problem of the so-called "pedophile priests" started in Granada, involving 7, 8 or 10 priests accused of abuse of minors and of having festival or orgies and this kind of thing.
I received the accusation myself, directly, a letter made by a young 23-year old, according to him he was abused, he gave his name and everything, a young man who was working in a prestigious college of Granada, and the letter was perfect. And he asked me what to do to report this. I told him to go to the archbishop of Granada and tell him this, and the archbishop will know what to do. He did, and the archbishop did all that he should do. Then it also went to the civil tribunal and so there were two processes. But then the local media began to speak and speak (about this), and three days later, they wrote "in the parish, three pedophile priests" and so on, and in this way the consciousness was formed that the priests were criminals.
Seven were interrogated and nothing was found. On three, the investigation went ahead and they stayed in jail, for five days, two of them and one, Fr. Romani, the parish priest, was in for 7 days. For almost three years and more, they suffered hate, slaps from the whole town… "criminals!" They couldn't go outside. They suffered humiliations made by the "giuria" declared to prove the accusations of the boy, that I don't dare repeat here. After three years, meanwhile, the "giuria" declares the priests innocent, all innocent, but most of all these three, the others were already out of the case and the accuser was then denounced because it was seen that he had a vivid imagination. He was very intelligent and he worked in a Catholic college, he had this prestige and gave the impression of telling the truth.