The whole world is at war and is threatened by its own destruction, declared Pope Francis, who answered journalists’ questions on the plane on the way back from his apostolic visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan on Sunday.
Pope Francis emphasized that he is open to meeting the presidents of both countries, Ukraine and Russia.
As he said, he did not go to Kyiv until now because it was not possible. He noted that he was looking for dialogue from the beginning: on the second day of the war in Ukraine, he visited the Russian embassy in the Holy See near the Vatican, saying that he wanted to go to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin “if there is a small window for negotiation”. The Pope recalled: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded by saying “we’ll see later”.
He explained that the war in Ukraine is not the only war, as there has been a war in Syria for almost thirteen years, and in Yemen for more than ten years, and the Pope reminded us of Myanmar and the “poor” Rohingyas, who have scattered around the world because they were driven from their homeland. He also mentioned South America.
He stated that the fires of war are visible everywhere: “there are more important wars that make more noise, but the whole world is at war, the world is self-destructing”. He believed that it is necessary to stop in time, since one bomb is answered by an even bigger one, and “in escalation, you don’t know what will happen to you in the end”.
The Pope said that in South Sudan, the men go to fight, and the women, left alone with the children, are so strong that they take the country forward.
“Let’s return to the power of women, let’s take it seriously and not use them as advertisements for beauty products, this is an insult to women who are called to do more,” declared Pope Francis.
As usual, the head of the Catholic Church answered some questions from the journalists accompanying him on the way back from the visit. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Iain Greenshields, one of the leaders of the Church of Scotland, who joined the Pope in South Sudan, took part in the impromptu briefing. Their words were quoted almost verbatim by the Vatican News website.
In relation to Africa, Pope Francis stated that violence is commonplace and named the arms trade as its number one cause.
“The arms trade, I think, is the biggest plague in the world,” he said. He noted that he did not know if it was true that if they did not sell weapons for a year, the amount saved could be used to eliminate hunger in the world, “in any case, the arms trade is currently at its peak.” He added that the exploitation of Africa must end.
Pope Francis talked about his relationship with Benedict and the tensions following the death of the retired pope. Benedek XVI. was always by his side, there were no problems between them, and if there were difficulties, Benedek XVI. provided him with advice. As an example, he mentioned the issue of gay cohabitation: he emphasized that in this case the sanctity of marriage was ruled out, but he once referred to the regulation of community of property as a possibility, as it is allowed by French law. The Pope said that is why a person who considers himself a “great theologian” denounced him in Benedict XVI., but the retired theologian pope, seeking the advice of other theologians, cut the debate short.
Pope Francis called the rumors that Benedict XVI. “was embittered by the behavior of the new pope, on the contrary, he supported my decisions,” he said.
“I think that the death of Benedict XVI was used by those who want to turn the tide at their own mills. Those who use such a good man, the servant of God, the holy father of the Church as a tool, are not moral, factions and not people of the Church,” he reported. Who is Pope Francis?
He explained that the treatment of homosexuality as a crime, which is considered a practice in about fifty countries and is punishable by death in nearly ten countries, cannot be left unsaid.
“Sons of God, God loves them, accompanies them,” he said. He emphasized that he is talking about individuals, as he considers lobbies to be a different matter.
Pope Francis has announced that he wants to visit India next year. Among the visits planned this year, he mentioned Marseilles, where he is expected on September 23, and from where he wants to continue to Mongolia. He also mentioned Lisbon, stating that he wanted to visit the smaller countries, the hidden part of Europe.
“My knee hurts, I’m moving forward slowly, we’ll see,” Pope Francis said, noting that bad money doesn’t go away.