Full text of Pope Francis' in-flight press conference from Peru
Vatican City, Jan 22, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- In a conversation with journalists on his return flight from Peru to Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis discussed the people of Peru and Chile, clerical sexual abuse, his recent in-flight marriage celebration, and the Amazon region, among other topics.
Here is CNA's full transcript of the Pope's in-flight press conference:
Greg Burke: Holy Father, thank you after a long and intense journey, at times warm, where you touched people's hearts, the holy people faithful to God, with a message of peace and hope, but also faced the challenges of the Church in Chile, the Church in Peru and also the two societies, with a special intention for the human dignity of the indigenous peoples and for the Amazon. Thank you for the opportunity to follow it closely and now let’s try to delve a bit further into the themes of the trip.
Pope Francis: Good evening and thanks for your work. It was a trip... I don’t know how you say in Italian, but in Spanish you say “pasteurized,” as you do with milk. You don’t pass from cold to hot, from hot to cold. And we passed from the south of Chile, a fresh, beautiful landscape, to the desert, the forests of Maldonado, then to Trujillo, the sea, and then to Lima. All the temperatures and all the climes. And this is tiring. Thanks so much! Now, the questions.
Greg Burke: Yes. We have questions from Peru and Chile to start. Armando Canchanya.
Pope Francis: Let’s start with those about the trip, all of them, and when we finish, if something is missing about the trip, I’ll tell you, and then the other questions if there are any.
Greg Burke: Perfect! Armando Canchanya of RPP, Perù
Armando Canchanya (RPP, Perù): Thanks for letting us accompany you. You went through three cities. I wanted to ask you about this trip. What does the Holy Father take with him from the trip to Peru?
Pope Francis: I take the impression of a believing people who have had many difficulties and they had them historically. But they have a faith that impresses me, not only the faith in Trujillo, where popular piety is very rich and very strong, but also the faith on the streets, and not only in Lima where evidently you see it, but also in Trujillo, also in Puerto Maldonado, where I thought to have an event in a place like this one, but it was a full square and when left for another, the streets as well. It’s a people who went out to express their joy and their faith.
It is true that you have, as it says today at noon, a saintly land. They are the Latin American people who have more saints, and high-level saints. Toribio, Rosa, Martin, Juan. High level. I believe that faith has run deep, very deep ... I take from Peru an impression of joy, of faith, of hope, of [a people] walking again, and above all, many children. I returned to that image that I saw in the Philippines and Colombia, the dads and the moms along my route raising up their kids, and that says “future.” It says “hope,” because nobody brings a child into the world if they do not have hope.
The only thing I ask is that they take care of their wealth, not only that of the churches and the museums — that the works of art are great — and not only of the suffering, that have enriched them so much, but the riches that I have seen in these days.
Greg Burke: Thank you Holy Father! Now Giovanni Hinojosa from the Republic of Peru
Giovanni Hinojosa: The political class has defrauded the people with acts of corruption and negotiated pardons, but so have members of the Church, like the Sodalitium...
Pope Francis: The problem of corruption...I wouldn't know how to respond to you historically, the progress of corruption of other countries in the world, you know that some countries in Europe there is a lot of corruption...some, not all. Yes in Latin (America) there are a lot of spotlights of corruption. Today this way of speaking about Odebrecht, for example. But this is a sample. The origin of corruption is...I would say that it is original sin which then carried...I wrote a booklet one time, very small, called "Sin and Corruption" and the motto I use is sinner yes, corrupt no. All of us are sinners, but I think that all of us here, at least I admit it on my part, treat a friend badly, steal, do drugs,or try not to...God's forgiveness is above all of this. I am not afraid of sin, I am afraid of corruption, because corruption impairs the body and the soul. And a corrupt person is so sure of themselves that they cannot go back. They are like those swamps that you try to get out of and they suck you [back]. It's a swamp. Yes, it's the destruction of the human person.
I don’t know if you want to ask something more about corruption. After I pass to the Sodalitium, no? Of course, the politician has a lot of power. The businessmen also has a lot of power. The businessmen who pays half of his workers is corrupt. And a housewife who is accustomed and believes that it is normal to exploit the maids either with salary or with the way she treats them, is corrupt. I remember a conversation I had with someone, a professional, young, 30 years old, who told me that he was carrying the thing, young, he was 30 years old. And he told me that he treated his domestic staff in a non-noble way. I told him, but you cannot do this, this is a sin. Father, he told me, we are not going to buy these people with me, these people are here for that. And this is what the sex trafficker thinks, the slave labor handler, they are corrupt.
And is there corruption in the Church? Yes, there are instances of corruption in the Church. This has always been so. Men and women of the Church have engaged in the game of corruption. And that serves as a bridge for the Sodalitium.
The situation of the Sodalitium began with the case of a person who appeared very virtuous, who died, and investigating his life, it was discovered that he had led a double life (Editor’s Note: he is referring to the case of German Doig Klinge, who died Feb. 13, 2001). This is the first chaos of the Sodalitium that I know of, but that happened in the past, twenty or twenty five years ago. And after that, there was an allegation of abuse, not only sexual, but of manipulation of the conscience by the founder. The case of the founder went to the Holy See, he was sentenced, he was not expelled from the Sodalitium, but he lives alone. One person attends to him. He declares himself to be innocent of the evidence of the case and has appealed to the Apostolic Signature, which is the supreme court of justice at the Vatican. According to the information I have, the appeal will be released in less than a month. It has been a year. But what has happened now? That trial was the trigger for other victims of this person to make civil and ecclesial claims. If the Apostolic Signatura decides in favor of the appeal, it will not make sense, because many, many serious cases are accumulating. Civil justice has intervened and, in this chaos, that is necessary, it is a matter of justice. I am not very informed, but the thing is very unfavorable for the founder.
On the other hand, this was not only a personal situation, there were things that weren't clear. Almost two years ago, I named a visitator in the person of Cardinal Tobin of Newark. Since the visit, he has discovered things that he doesn't understand and that aren't clear, and I named two economic viewers. And this is the third abuse, which also went up to the founder. And after a study, he recommended a custodian for the Sodalitium. Four weeks ago I sent the letter, and two weeks ago I named [him]. Concerning the procedures, it is a similar case to that of the Legionaries, which was carried out by Benedict XVI. In this, he was very strong. He didn't tolerate these things, and from him I’ve understood not to tolerate them as well. The legal status is [that they are] under a custodian, and the apostolic visit continues.
Greg Burke: Now, we’re passing on to Chile, with Juan Pablo Iglesias of La Tercera.
Juan Pablo Iglesias (La Tercera): At first, your message was very strong about [clerical sexual] abuse, but the last day [in Chile] you made a statement [saying some victims] are committing slander. Why do you believe Barros more than the victims?
Pope Francis: I understand the question perfectly. On [Bishop] Barros, I only made one declaration. I spoke in Chile, and this was in Iquique, at the end. I spoke two times about the abuse, with a lot of strength, in front of the government, which was to speak in front of the country, and in the cathedral with the priests.
What I said to the priests is what I feel most deeply about this case. You know that Benedict XVI began by taking a zero tolerance [approach], and I have continued with zero tolerance. After almost 5 years of being Pope, I have not signed any "permission of pardon.” In the cases of dismissal from the clerical state, it's a definitive sentence in first instance. The person condemned has the right to appeal to the tribunal of the second instance. The tribunal knows that if there is clear proof of abuse, they cannot appeal the sentence. What can be appealed are the procedures: lack of procedures, irregularities, then there you have to make a review of the process. If the second instance confirms the first, there’s only one exit left for the person and that is appealing to the Pope, as a grace.
In five years, I have received — I don’t know the number — 20 or 25 requests for “grace” that have come in. I didn’t sign any. Only in one case, which wasn’t grace but the argument of a juridical sentence, in the first year of the pontificate.
I found myself with two sentences, one very serious from the diocese, and one from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was the strongest. The one from the diocese was very serious and very conditioned… with these conditions, one needs to wait a time to see that… that is, the case wasn’t closed. (Editor note: The comments appear to refer to the case of Italian Mauro Inzoli)
As must be done with good jurisprudence, always in favor of the accused. I opted for the most lenient sentence, with the conditions.
After two years, it was decided that the conditions weren’t completed and so I let the other work. It was the only case in which I hesitated because there were two sentences and there was a juridical principle “in dubia pro reo” and so for this I opted for that. That is my position.
In the case of Bishop Barros, I had it studied, I had it investigated, I had it worked on a lot. And truly there is no evidence. I use the word evidence. Then I will speak about proof. There is no evidence of culpability, it seems that it will not be found. There is a coherence in another sense. I am waiting for evidence to change position, but I apply the judicial principle basic in any tribunal: “nemo malus nisi provetur” — no one is guilty until it is proven.
I used the word "proof" and I believe that gave me a hard time. I said it in Spanish, as I remember, I was entering and a journalist from Iquique asked me: ‘In Chile we have a big problem with Bishop Barros, what do you think?' I think that the words I said were these. First I thought about whether to respond or not, and I said yes [I would], because he had been bishop of Iquique, and a parishioner is asking me. I said, the day that I have proof I will speak. I think I said, ‘I don’t have proof,’ but it is recorded, you can find it.
The answer was: the day that I have proof, I will speak. The word 'proof' is what caused [concern]. No one is bad “sino probetur.” I would speak about evidence and, of course, I know that there are a lot of people who have been abused and that they cannot show proof, they do not have it. They cannot [show it] or sometimes they have it, but they are ashamed and hide it, and suffer in silence. The drama of those who have been abused is tremendous. Terrible. Two [months] ago I tended to a woman who was abused 40 years ago — 40, married with three children. This woman hadn’t received Communion from that time, because in the hand of the priest she saw the hand of the abuser. She couldn't go near. And she was a believer. She was Catholic. Sorry to continue in Spanish, but I want to be precise with the Chileans. The word “proof” wasn’t the best [word to use] in order to be near to a sorrowful heart. I would say evidence.
The case of Barros was studied, it was re-studied, and there is no evidence. That is what I wanted to say. I have no evidence to condemn. And if I were to condemn without evidence or without moral certainty, I would commit the crime of a bad judge.
I have another thing to say… I’ll explain it in Italian.
One of you came up to me and said: have you seen the letter that came out? They showed me a letter that I had written years ago when the problem with Barros began. I need to explain that letter, because it is also a letter in favor of prudence, how the problem with Barros was managed. That letter does not tell of a momentary fact; that letter is the narration of more or less 10-12 months. When the scandal with Karadima was discovered, we all know this scandal, we began to see many priests who were formed by Karadima who were either abused or who were abusers. In Chile there are four bishops who Karadima invited to the seminary. Someone from the episcopal conference made a suggestion that it would be better perhaps if these four bishops renounced their positions, resigned, took a sabbatical year while the storm passed, to avoid accusations, because they are good bishops.
And Barros, Barros already had been bishop there for 20 years and was about to finish his military bishopric. He was an auxiliary, then bishop of Iquique and then military bishop for almost 10 years, and 20 years a bishop. But let us ask if the accusations against him, perhaps explaining them...and he diligently resigned. And he came to Rome and I told him: ‘No, we don't play this way, because this is to admit culpability in advance, and then, as in any case, if there are culpable parties, it will be investigated.’ And I rejected it. This is about the 10 months contained in that letter. Then, when he was appointed and all this protest took place, he gave me his resignation for the second time. I said, ‘No, you go.’ I spoke with him for a long time, others spoke at length with him… you go. You know what happened there the day he took possession, the protests. They continued to investigate Barros, but there is no evidence and this is what I wanted to say: I cannot condemn him because I don't have the evidence and this is what I wanted to say. I cannot condemn him because I do not have the evidence. But I am also convinced that he is innocent.
I will pass to a third point, that of the letter I explained clearly: what those who have been abused feel. With this I have to ask forgiveness because the word "proof" wounded, it wounded many people who were abused, but I must go to look for the certificate, I have to do that — a word on translation, in the legal jargon, I wounded them. I ask them for forgiveness because I wounded them without realizing it, but it was an unintended wound. And this horrified me a lot, because I had received them. (But) in Chile I received two [abuse victims] as you know, I met others that I kept hidden. In every trip, there is always some possibility. The ones in Philadelphia were published, three (meetings) were published, then the other cases no… And I know how much they suffer, to feel that the Pope says in their face ‘bring me a letter, a proof.’ It's a slap. And I agree that my expression was not apt, because I didn't think, and I understand how the Apostle Peter, in one of his letters, says that the fire has been raised. This is what I can say with sincerity. Barros will remain there if I don't find a way to condemn him. I cannot condemn him if I don't have — I don't say proof — but evidence. And there are many ways to get evidence. Is that clear?
(They announce turbulence on the plane)
They tell me that after the turbulence of Barros and the Sodalitium, we have a more meteorological one...I’ll stay here.
(He sits in a row of seats with the journalists during the turbulence).
Matilde Burgos, CNN Espanol: (Follow up question about Bishop Barros and about a possible distance between the Pope and the people in Chile)
Pope Francis: The case maybe started with the bad decision of the resignation, and he began to be accused. But there is no evidence of abuse. Covering up an abuse is abuse. There is no evidence. There isn’t. The best they believe is this, to provide the evidence quickly. If you think it is like this honestly. I, in this moment, do not think it is so, because there is none. But my heart is open to receive it.
And the other from Chile is made up.
I came from Chile happy, I did not expect that many people in the street. And they weren’t paying an entry fee. The people were not paid nor taken in collectively. The spontaneity of Chile was very strong, even in Iquique, and I thought it was going to be a little thing. But you saw what it was. In the south, the same and in Santiago, the same. The streets of Santiago spoke for themselves.
In this, I think that the responsibility of the informant is to go to the concrete facts. There was this, and this. The thing about a divided people, I do not know where it comes from, it is the first time I hear of it. Maybe Barros is the cause of this, but placing it in its reality it could be because of this. But my impression of Chile was very strong and rewarding. Then, I would like to go back a moment to what most moved me about Chile, at least a moment.
Greg Burke: Let's move on to the Italian group. Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider.
Andrea Tornielli (Vatican Insider/La Stampa): Your Holiness, I wanted to talk about what you said in the past day in the Amazon, because there was a new element in that speech: not only the threat posed by the big economic groups, but also the threat — indeed you have talked about perversion — of some environmental policies that end up stifling people's lives. So is there an environmentalism that is against man?
Pope Francis: Yes, yes in that area, I could not at this moment describe it well, but to protect the forest and to save some tribes who ended up outside the forest, because the forest is being finished by exploitation. But the most concrete fact of this case is in the statistics of the area. You will surely find the precise data. It is a phenomenon of preserving the environment and then isolating it, they have remained isolated from real progress. The number that was given there, in that area, the information they sent to prepare the trip, I have studied it.
Greg Burke: Aura Miguel, of Radio Renascenca.
Aura Miguel (Radio Renascenca): The wedding on the airplane. From now on, what would you say to the parish priests, to the bishops will be asked by couples if they can marry them I don’t know where, on the beach, on boats, airplanes?
Pope Francis: You’re imagining a cruise with a wedding. Eh, this would be… One of you told me that I’m crazy for doing these things. The thing was simple. The man was on the first flight. She wasn’t there. I spoke with him… then, I realized that he had become awkward. I spoke of life of how I thought of life, then the life of the family. A nice chat. Then, the day after both of them were there and after we took a photograph, they told me this: ‘We were going to get married in a church, we were married civilly, but the day before’ - you could tell it was a small city - ‘the church was toppled by an earthquake and there was no wedding.’ This was 10 years ago, maybe eight, the earthquake was in 2010, eight years ago. And then [they thought]: “tomorrow we’ll do it,” and “the day after tomorrow.” That’s the way life goes and then the daughter [came] and another daughter. I interrogated them a bit. And the answers were clear, for their whole life…. “You know these things. Do you have a good memory of the catechism?” “We have taken the pre-matrimonial classes.” They were prepared and I judged that they were prepared. They asked me. Sacraments are for people. All of the conditions were clear and why not do today … and not delay it for tomorrow… and maybe after ‘tomorrow’ it would have been eight or 10 years more. This is the answer. I judged that they were prepared, that they knew what they were doing, that each of them was prepared before the Lord with the sacrament of penance. When they had arrived at that point, it was all over. They told me that, they said it to some of you… “We’re going to the Pope to ask if he’ll marry us.” That’s how the thing went. But tell the parish priests that the Pope interrogated them well. And then they had done the pre-marriage course, and they were aware.
Greg Burke: Holiness, we’ve done almost an hour, but I don’t know if we can still do one or two [questions].
Pope Francis: Yes, about the trip.
Greg Burke: On the trip. Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
Pope Francis: Yes, because about Peru, almost nothing [has been asked].
Nicole Winfield (AP): Ah, no more Chile... Holy Father, yesterday Cardinal O’Malley made a statement on these comments about Bishop Barros and he said that words such as these are a source of pain for the survivors of abuse with the effect of making them feel abandoned and discredited… you said that you didn’t feel well [at knowing the victims felt abandoned], and I imagine, I wonder if it was precisely the words of Cardinal O’Malley that made you realize the pain [caused], and then a question linked to this: the Commission for the Protection of Minors, led by Cardinal O’Malley. There was the expiration last month of the first members. There are people who see in this expiration, they ask themselves if this is a sign of a “non-priority” of the protection of minors.
Pope Francis: I understand, I understand. On Cardinal O'Malley, I saw his statement, and he said, "the Pope has always upheld this, the Pope has zero tolerance, the Pope said the other.. with this unhappy expression."
And this has made me think of the word "proof." [It is] calumny, [if] anyone says with obstinacy, without evidence, that he did this, he did that... it is calumny. If I say that he stole and he did not steal, then I am slandering [him], because I do not have evidence, I do not have evidence that he did that to them.
But I have not heard of any victim of Barros... they have not come, they have not given evidences of the judgment. It is a little up in the air. It is a thing that you cannot assume.
You, with goodwill, tell me: there are victims [of Bishop Barros, or of the alleged coverage of Bishop Barros]. But I have not seen them because they have not come to me. It is true that Barros was part of the group of young men [around Karadima]. Barros entered the seminary, I don't know when, but he has been a bishop 24 years. He was probably a priest 15 years, many years. He entered as a very young man,... he says that he did not see it, he was part of the group but then he went another way. And on this we should be clear. One that accuses without evidence, with obstinacy, this is calumny.
But if a person comes and gives me the evidence, I am the first to listen to him. We should be just. I have an appreciation for Cardinal O'Malley, I thank him for his statement because it was very just. He said all that I did and that I do, that the Church does, and then he spoke of the sorrow of the victims. Not in this case, in general. Because many victims feel that they are not able to bring [forward] a document or a testimonial.
The commission was appointed for 3 years I believe, it has expired. I will study a new commission and they, the same commission, decided to renew a part, to nominate new members and others renew. But also before the start of the trip, the definitive list of the commission has come, and now it follows (that) there were some observations on someone that they should clarify, because they are studying the new people. There were two observations that they should clear up. Cardinal O'Malley has worked well, has worked as he should. No, please, do not think that... the time has been a normal amount of time for a nomination of people.
Greg Burke: Holiness, we’ll do a final question, if it’s about the trip.
Unknown Journalist: One of the aims of the Church is to fight against poverty. Chile, in 20 years has lowered the poverty level to 11 percent. Is it, in your perspective, the result of a liberal political [system]? Is there good in liberalism, do you think? I have another small question regarding Cardinal Maradiaga: what do you think of the news of money that regards him? Thanks.
Pope Francis: About Cardinal Maradiaga, it’s not from the trip but I will answer: he has made a signed statement. I say what he said.
About liberalism, I will say that we have to study the cases of liberal politics well. There are other countries in Latin America with liberal politics. I’m not a technician, but in general a liberal political [system] that doesn’t engage all of the peoples, leads downwards. I don’t know in Chile but we see that in other Latin American countries, things are going down.
About the trip, I would like to say something that really moved me: the women’s jail. Well, I have an ever sensitive heart… I’m very sensitive the jails and inmates. I always ask myself about jails, why them and not me. But, to see these women, to see the creativity of these women, the capacity for change, their capacity to change their lives, to reinsert themselves in society with the force of the Gospel. One of you told me that I saw the joy of the children. It moved me. And, I was very moved by that meeting, one of the most beautiful things of the trip. Then, at Puerto Maldonado, that meeting with the indigenous. We are there because obviously - in a moment you’re in their world, no? - that day was the first meeting of the Synod for the Amazon, which will be in 2019. I was so moved by the “Hogar Principito”, to see these kids, the majority abandoned, those young boys and girls who were able, with education, to move ahead. They are professionals. It moved me so much. It’s a work to bring the person upwards. This moved me so much.
Then, the people, the warmth of the people. And today it was unbelievable what was there. The warmth of the people, and I say this nation has faith. This faith was contagious for me and I thank God, and I thank you for the work that awaits you, to write articles and news on the questions you’ve asked me. Thanks for your patience and thanks for the questions. Many thanks.
Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness, for you patience. Have a good rest and a good dinner.