In an interview granted to the Associated Press news agency, the Pope highlighted the consequences of Benedict XVI’s death.
Pope Francis, 86, regularly grants river interviews. The latest was collected on Tuesday – and published this Wednesday – by Nicole Winfield, Vatican executive for the American agency Associated Press. This interview is his first public speech outside of ceremonies since the death of Benedict XVI. on December 31, 2022. Francis took the opportunity to respond to the controversies that followed, including those of the German Pope’s private secretary, Mgr. Georg Gänswein, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, German, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and of Cardinal George Pell, Australian, who on the 10th the latter would have described the pontificate as “disaster” and “catastrophe,” says an initially anonymous text that has now been authenticated.
“Criticism is a right”
Answers from François: “Criticism makes it possible to grow and improve things”. The Pope also prefers that it speaks out, even if it is “a bit disturbing” and disturbs “the calm”. He would prefer that “there was no criticism” but “they feel there is freedom of expression”. And even if it’s just “deflections,” the dissenting votes are an antidote to “the dictatorship of distance, when the emperor is there and nobody can say anything to him.”
Also read Vatican: The criticism of Benedict XVI’s personal secretary to Pope Francis
The Pope denies any “connection” between the death of Benedict XVI. and the most recent salvo of criticism to date. Rather, he attributes it to “the attrition of a 10-year reign.” Indeed, on March 13, 2023, Francis will celebrate the tenth anniversary of his election. He notes: “When some began to see (his) flaws, they didn’t like them. “And only ‘one requirement’: that we speak ‘in front of’ and not behind his back. In doing so, he pays homage to Cardinal Pell, who did not mince his words. “He was a wonderful guy, brilliant,” he said of the prelate he had entrusted with the Vatican’s financial reform. “He had the right” to criticize him because “criticism is a human right”.
“Being gay is not a crime”
Would the recent charges make Francis give up? He reiterates that if he had to choose what is not on the agenda, he would call himself “Bishop Emeritus of Rome” rather than “Pope Emeritus” and live in a diocesan priest’s house. He also thinks it is premature to make a legal decision about the situation of a retired pope. As such, he pays a strong homage to Benedict XVI, who was like a “father” to him. “If I had any doubts, I would ask for a car and go upstairs to consult him,” he reveals. “He was an old-fashioned lord.” He adds, “Some wanted to use it, he resisted.”
Also readBenedict XVI’s funeral: In Rome, some observers predict “zones of turbulence”
On the other hand, Francis is very critical of the current synod of the German Church, which he believes is led by “the elite” and not by the “people of God”: “The danger is that something very, very ideological will seep through.” “the Holy Spirit goes home because ideology defeats the Holy Spirit”. And openly to homosexuality: “Being homosexual is not a crime, it is a sin”. We must distinguish “between a sin and a crime” and hope that the bishops who support “unjust” anti-gay laws will go through “a process of conversion” because “God loves us just as we are.”
The Pope also revealed a number of details about himself. François says he is “in good health” but acknowledges the diverticulosis for which he had bowel surgery on July 4, 2021 has “returned” but is making sure “everything is under control”.