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Capitalism and War: Pope Francis
Pope Francis was interviewed by the “la Vanguardia” newspaper from Catalonia. In the dialogue, Francis spoke about the state of reforms in the Vatican, Benedict’s retirement and prayer for peace on Pentecost.
CAPITALISM AND WAR
Interview with Pope Francis
[This interview “Ich bin kein Erleuchtener” published on June 13, 2014 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.domradio.de. Pope Francis was interviewed by the “la Vanguardia” newspaper from Catalonia. In the dialogue, Francis spoke about the state of reforms in the Vatican, Benedict’s retirement and prayer for peace on Pentecost.]
Question: Violence in God’s name marks the Middle East.
Pope Francis: That is a contradiction. Violence in God’s name does not match our time. That is something old. From an historical perspective, we Christians practiced that from time to time. That must be admitted. The Thirty-Year War was violence in God’s name. Today, that is hardly imaginable, right? Sometimes we fall into very momentous contradictions for religious reasons. Fundamentalism is an example. We three religions have our fundamentalist groups that are small in relation to the rest.
Persecuted Christians are a concern that touches my heart as a shepherd. I know a great deal about persecutions but out of caution do not speak about this to not put anyone’s nose out of joint. Still there are places where owning a Bible, teaching the catechism or wearing a cross are prohibited.
Question: What do you think about fundamentalism?
Pope Francis: A fundamentalist group is violent even when it does not kill or strike anyone. The mental structure of fundamentalism is violence in God’s name.
Question: Some see you as a revolutionary…
Pope Francis: For me the great revolution consists in going to the roots, recognizing them and seeing what these roots have to say to us. There is no contradiction between revolutionary and going to the roots. Rather the lever for bringing about real changes is identity. One can never advance a step in life if one does not backfire, if one does not know where he/she comes from or what cultural and religious name he/she has.
Question: You have often broken the protocol to be near people.
Pope Francis: I know something can happen but that is in God’s hands… Let us be realistic. At my age, I don’t have much to lose.
Question: Why is it so important that the church is poor and humble?
Pope Francis: Poverty and humility are at the heart of the gospel. I say that in a theological sense, not in a sociological sense. The gospel cannot be understood without poverty but poverty must be distinguished from pauperism.
Question: What can the church do to reduce the growing inequality between rich and poor?
Pope Francis: We could feed the hungry with the food that is left. When you see malnourished children in different parts of the world, you throw your hands up in the air. I believe we are in a world economic system that isn’t good… We are bewitched in the idolatry of money. We are throwing away a whole generation to maintain an economic system that cannot last. This system needs to create wars to survive as grand empires have always done. Regional wars are now created because we cannot have a third world war. What does that mean? Weapons are produced and sold and the balances of the great world economies are revitalized.
Question: Are you worried about the conflict between Catalonia and Spain?
Pope Francis: Every division makes me anxious. There is independence for emancipation and independence for secession. Independence for emancipation is American; they emancipate themselves from the European states. Independence of people for secession is a splintering… Think of former Yugoslavia. There are countries with cultures so diverse that even glue could not hold them together.
The Yugoslavian case is very clear. I ask myself whether it is as clear with other people who were united up to now. This must be studied case by case: Scotland, Padania (area in northern Italy) and Catalonia. There will be just cases and cases that are not just but the secession of a nation without a history of forced unity must be handled with care and analyzed case by case.
Question: The prayers for peace in the Vatican were not easy to organize because there was no precedent. How did you feel about that?
Pope Francis: I felt this was something that goes beyond all of us. Here in the Vatican 99 percent said this would not go off well and that this one percent grows more and more. We saw ourselves forced in a matter that we did not understand and that took form gradually. It was a religious act from the beginning, opening a window to the world, and not a political act.
Question: Why did you decide to travel into the eye of the typhoon, the Middle East?
Pope Francis: The real eye of the typhoon was the World Youth Day in Rio in 2013 – on account of the enthusiasm that was there! The resolution to journey to the Holy Land came about because President Peres invited me. I knew his mandate expired this spring. His invitation accelerated the travel.
Question: You say a Jew is planted in every Christian.
Pope Francis: It would be more correct to say one cannot really live one’s Christianity if one does not recognize one’s Jewish roots. I speak of Judaism in the religious sense. In my opinion, the inter-religious dialogue must tackle this, the Jewish root of Christianity and the Christian flowering time out of Judaism. That is a challenge, a hot potato, but as brothers we can do that.
Question: How do you judge anti-Semitism?
Pope Francis: I cannot explain how anti-Semitism comes about but I believe in general it is closely connected with the right-wing. Anti-Semitism gains a foothold in right-wing circles much more than in the left. Isn’t that true? We even have people who deny the holocaust. What madness!
Question: One of your projects is to open the Vatican archive on the holocaust.
Pope Francis: Much light could be brought into that subject.
Question: Are you worried about what could be discovered?
Pope Francis: What makes me anxious in this theme is the figure of Pius XII. Poor Pius XII was criticized for everything possible. One must remember he was earlier regarded as the great defender of the Jews. He hid many in monasteries of Rome and other Italian cities and in the Castel Gandolfo summer residence. There in the room of the pope, in his own bed, 42 babies were born, children of Jews or other victims of persecution who escaped there. I do not say Pius XII committed no errors – I have also committed many – but his role must be read in the context of the epoch. For example, was it better that he was silent or that he was not silent to prevent even more Jews from being killed? Sometimes I am a little annoyed when everyone speaks against the church and Pius XII and entirely forgets the super-powers. Do you know the super-powers knew the railroad network of the Nazis on which Jews were brought to the concentration camps? They had photos of that! But they did not drop bombs on the rails. Why not? We should speak about this.
Question: You are changing many things. Where will these changes lead?
Pope Francis: I am not an enlightened one. I carry out what we cardinals resolved before the conclave of the general congregation where we discuss the problems of the church every day. Reflections and recommendations arose there. Very concretely the future pope will need a group of foreign advisors who do not live in the Vatican.
Question: You founded the council of cardinals…
Pope Francis: There are eight cardinals from all the continents and a coordinator. They meet here every two or three months. At the beginning of July, we will have four day sessions. We will carry out the changes that the cardinals desire. While doing that is not obligatory, it would be imprudent not to hear their voices.
Question: What do you think about the retirement of Benedict XVI?
Pope Francis: Pope Benedict opened a door, founded an institution and retired… I will do the same as he did, namely ask the Lord to enlighten me when the moment comes and tell me what I should do. He will surely do that.
I will not ask you who you will be supporting in the soccer World Cup.
Pope Francis: The Brazilians asked me to be neutral… (Laughs) I keep my word because Brazil and Argentina have always been opposed to each other.