A relaxed and visibly happy Pope Francis gave a 45-minute press conference July 29 on the flight home from Canada. This marked the end of his successful week-long “Penitential Pilgrimage” to the Indigenous peoples of Canada, which took him on a journey of more than 12,000 miles.
He answered eight questions. The first two were directly related to issues of concern to indigenous peoples, three of them were related to the possibility of resignation and travel abroad, one asked if there could be a development in the teaching of church regarding the use of contraceptives, another considered the German Synod, and the last dealt with the current Italian political crisis.
Upcoming overseas travel
Francis told reporters that his week-long trip to Canada was “a test” and since he felt he had passed it, he announced his intention to continue his travels abroad, but at a more measured pace than by the past.
“I don’t think I can continue with the same pace of movement as before. I think at my age and with this limitation, I have to save [my energies up] a little to be able to serve the church or, on the contrary, to think about the possibility of stepping aside. This [I say] in all honesty: it’s not a disaster, it is possible to change [the] pope, it is possible to change, no problem! But I think I have to limit myself a bit with these efforts,” he said.
“I will try to continue to travel and be close to people, because I think closeness is a way of serving.”
During the trip to Canada he used a wheelchair, cane, walker and at the press conference he sat in a chair.
“For me, knee surgery is not an option, it’s not OK for me, in my case. The technicians [health care professionals] let’s say yes, but there is the whole problem of anesthesia. [Twelve] a few months ago, I underwent more than six hours of anesthesia, and there are still traces. you don’t play [around], you’re not kidding, with anesthesia. And that’s why I don’t think it’s entirely appropriate,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded, “I will try to continue to travel and be close to people, because I think closeness is a way of serving.”
He said he “wants” to go to Kyiv, plans to visit Kazakhstan in mid-September for a world meeting of religions, and wants to pay his debts to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan by returning them. visit with the Archbishop of Canterbury. and Moderator of the Church of Scotland. He said he also had a debt to Lebanon and would pay it with a visit.
Prior to his trip to Canada, he was forced to cancel trips to Lebanon, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo due to problems with his right knee and leg.
Residential School Cultural Genocide and the Doctrine of Discovery
A Canadian journalist asked why he didn’t use the term “cultural genocide” in reference to the residential school system in the country as Truth and Reconciliation did. François replied: “I didn’t use the word because it didn’t occur to me, but I described the genocide and asked forgiveness, forgiveness for this ‘operation’ which is genocidal. He recalled that “for example, I condemned this too: kidnapping children, changing culture, changing mentalities, changing traditions, changing a race, let’s say, a whole culture”. He concluded: “Genocide is a technical word but I didn’t use it because it didn’t cross my mind, but I described [what happened]. It’s true. It was genocide… You can say that I said it was genocide.
Responding to a Canadian journalist who said Indigenous peoples claim that the Doctrine of Discovery somehow promoted the idea that Indigenous peoples in newly “discovered” lands were inferior to Catholics, Pope Francis said “it is a problem of all colonialism” and “even the ideological colonizations of today have the same pattern. He who does not enter his path is inferior.
“Even the ideological colonizations of today have the same pattern. He who does not enter his path is inferior.
He said not only were they considered inferior, “some rather crazy theologians even wondered if they had a soul!” He recalled that Africans were embarked on a boat in disastrous conditions to become slaves in America, and if some like Bartolomé de las Casas or Peter Claver, spoke up, “they were the minority”. He recalled that “the consciousness of human equality came slowly” but “in the unconscious there is still something”. Because we still have “a somewhat colonialist attitude of reducing their culture to ours. It is something that comes to us from the developed way of life, ours, because of which we sometimes lose the values they have.
He said: “this doctrine of colonization, which it is true is bad and unjust, is still used today, with silken gloves”. He recalled that the bishops of certain countries had told him: “When our country asks for a credit from an international organization, they put conditions on us, even legislative, colonialist conditions. To give you credit, they make you change your lifestyle a bit.
Pope Francis recalled that “in the colonization of America, let’s say that of the Americas, that of the British, the French, the Spanish, the Portuguese, there has always been a danger, a mentality of ‘we are superior, and these native people don’t matter. “He denounced this as ‘serious’ and for this reason, he said, “we have to go back and heal, let’s say, what was done wrong, knowing that even today the same colonialism exists. ”
When asked if he was open to a revision of Church teaching regarding the use of contraception, Pope Francis said that “dogma, morality, is always in a process of development , but in an evolution in the same direction”. He explained that “for the theological development of a moral or dogmatic question”, Vincent de Lérins identified “a very clear and illuminating rule” in the tenth century. Lérins said “that the true doctrine to move forward, to develop, must not be silent, it develops ut annis consolidationtur, temporal dilator, sublimetur aetate. That is to say that it consolidates over time, it expands and consolidates and comes more still but always in progress.
“Theological development must be open, theologians are there for that. And the Magisterium must help to understand the limits.
Francis explained that “the duty of theologians is research, theological reflection” and said: “one cannot do theology with a ‘no’ in front of it. It will then be up to the Magisterium to say no, you have gone further, come back. He said, “Theological development has to be open, theologians are there for that. And the Magisterium must help to understand the limits.
On the issue of contraception, a book has been published on this and other marital issues, Pope Francis said. He was referring to the book containing the proceedings of a congress organized by the Pontifical Academy of Life. He explained that “those who participated in this congress did their duty, because they tried to advance in doctrine, but in an ecclesial sense.” Francis added that “then the Magisterium will speak”.
He cited how there had been a development of church teaching on atomic weapons and on the death penalty. He seemed to hint that there might also be a development in church teaching regarding contraception. He said: “a church which does not develop its thought in an ecclesial direction is a church which retreats… and it is the problem of today, of so many people who call themselves traditional”. He said, “Tradition is precisely the root, the inspiration for going forward in the church.
On the German Synod
A German journalist, noting that the Holy See had published an unsigned statement a few days ago on the German Synodal Way, asked Francis: “Do you think this mode of communication contributes or is an obstacle to dialogue?
François replied: “This statement was made by the Secretariat of State… It was a mistake not to sign it as Secretary of State, but an office error, not bad will”. He recalled that he had written a letter on the Synodal Way two years ago, and said: “I wrote a letter, I did it myself: a month with prayer, reflection, consultations. And I said everything I had to say about the Synodal Way, I won’t say more. He said this letter “is the papal magisterium on the synodal way.”
He revealed: “I jumped over the Curia, because I did not consult [in the Curia], nothing. I did like my own way too as a pastor [for] a church that seeks a way, as a brother, as a father and as a believer. And that’s my message. With this response, Francis distanced himself from the statement of the Holy See.
Italy without a government
An Italian journalist asked Francis what he thought of the recent fall of the Italian government led by Mario Draghi. The pope began his response by saying, “I don’t want to meddle in Italian domestic politics.” At the same time, he noted that President Draghi was recognized as “a man of great international quality” and “president of the [European Central Bank].” He said he asked one of his aides, “Tell me, how many governments has Italy had in this century?” And he told me 20. Francis concluded by saying that political parties in Italy should demonstrate “responsibility. Civic responsibility.
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