“The Pope will never side with one country against another” | EUROtoday

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Ithe ear of popes and heads of state. Founder of the Sant'Egidio* neighborhood, the Catholic NGO which has intervened for many years as a mediator in world conflicts, and former minister within the Monti authorities, Andrea Riccardi is near Pope Francis, as he was to John Paul II.

The chaplain of Sant'Egidio, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, is the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and it was he whom Pope Francis despatched as an emissary within the struggle between Russia and Ukraine. A dedicated Catholic, each historian and politician, Andrea Riccardi deciphers for Point the map of the world in response to Francis.

Point : How can we summarize Pope Francis' worldview?

Andrea Riccardi: Summarizing François is unimaginable. Because he’s a pacesetter who lives in actuality, and he’s all the time on the transfer. If I’ve to characterize him, I might not say that he’s a theologian, a thinker, however fairly an knowledgeable in humanity. Until his election as pope on March 13, 2013, he was a person rooted in Latin America and particularly within the megalopolis of Buenos Aires.

In 2006, for the primary time on this planet, the variety of inhabitants of cities exceeded these of the countryside. Pope Francis comes from the good globalized metropolis, and this has formed his outlook on the planet. It is the product of an city civilization. His expertise of a world metropolis like Buenos Aires was crucial for his conception of Christianity and the function of the Church. He is the top of a pluralist Church, and the worldwide world wherein we dwell has unified methods of life, however producing conflicts. Bergoglio's methodology is dialogue to handle complexity.

How is the world divided within the thoughts of Pope Bergoglio?

First, we must always not assume, in a simplified method, that he has the reflexes of a Latin American, with an aversion for the United States, for “the Yankee”. He is aware of the significance of the United States within the Church and on this planet. The pope is an Argentinian, however linked by his private historical past to Italy. He embodies the South of the world, and now we may situate him as a Brics man, bringing collectively the international locations of the “Global South”.

But I believe these are simplistic statements. The Pope is each less complicated and extra sophisticated than he appears. We should bear in mind his journey to the United States, one of the vital vital of his hold forth, and his speech on the Capitol, his conferences with the American president, and likewise Trump. His presence in Europe has been important, particularly since he has sought to get up Europe, which he considers – allow us to bear in mind his speech to the Strasbourg parliament – ​​as “a slightly tired grandmother”.

READ ALSO When the Pope castigates “the Vatican, the last absolute monarchy in Europe” This is a speech from 2014. Pope Francis has considerably uncared for the previous European nations…

Indeed. Until not too long ago in Marseille, he had by no means been to France. Neither in Germany nor in Spain. Three international locations that matter in Catholicity. But he traveled so much in Italy. And he visited many peripheral international locations in Europe. It is a alternative that appears obscure as a result of Germany, Spain and France had been compulsory passages for his predecessors.

For Francis, the French Church just isn’t the cradle of Vatican II, as John Paul II or Paul VI thought. François is aware of French theologians like Father de Lubac [jésuite, résistant, condamné par Pie XII, puis nommé expert à Vatican II par Jean XXIII et créé cardinal par Jean-Paul II, NDLR]. But his story is totally different. He significantly valued minor Europe, Macedonia, Albania, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania… He made a powerful variety of journeys to small international locations.

The Church, like moms, companions, daughters going through males who kill one another, guards the lives misplaced: it’s not an International Court of Justice.

But, in contrast to John Paul II, he doesn’t give a speech to everybody. John Paul II defended a kind of geotheology and sought to present a vocation to totally different nations in every of his journeys. Remember the Le Bourget speech of 1980: “France, remember the promises of your baptism! » The current pope, if he goes to Cameroon, does not seek to give a vision of Cameroon. He holds an ecclesial discourse, without confining himself to the historical and Christian vocation of a nation.

READ ALSO Jean-François Colosimo: “The new despotisms designate us as the enemy of humankind” In the information, it’s obscure his place on Ukraine, this hanging picture of the “white flag”. You who know him nicely, how will you clarify this need for peace in any respect prices, on the danger of getting peoples who’re crushed, oppressed?

I have to remind you that one of many first acts of the hold forth was the prayer for peace in Syria, at a time when Obama was main navy motion in opposition to the Assad regime. The Pope, by way of his nice prayer, disarmed the American response; Obama was an enormous supporter of Francis. But let's come to the struggle in Ukraine. If Francis just isn’t afraid of breaking away, of fixing issues, his place on the struggle is in profound continuity with that of his predecessors, from Benedict XV to John Paul II, through Pius XII, who all outlined the struggle as a “useless massacre”.

The place of the Catholic Church could be very totally different from that of the Orthodox, nations-identified, or Protestant church buildings. The Catholic Church is worldwide, it lives amongst totally different peoples. The Church doesn’t like struggle. But there’s yet one more factor in relation to this structural place. As Pope John XXIII mentioned, the Church, like moms, companions, daughters going through males who kill one another, guards the lives misplaced: it’s not a global Court of justice.

This idea is all the time disappointing for the combatants and for public opinion. But Francis, in his personal method, together with his prophetic exaggerations, with the absence of diplomatic language, sees struggle as an evil, and pushes for peace to be made shortly. He noticed that there are a number of fires of struggle and he turned obsessive about these fires uniting and setting the world ablaze. This is what Francis defines as World War III “in pieces.”

In this place on Ukraine, are there ulterior motives of rapprochement with Russia through the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Kirill, and likewise with China, a land of conquest for the Jesuits the place he want to be? the primary pope to enter?

There is a need for rapprochement with Russia, definitely. Francis was the primary pope to satisfy Patriarch Kirill: it was on the Havana airport, in 2016. But, at the moment, on this case, I’m positive that there’s not a precedence Russian in Bergoglio's imaginative and prescient. Ukraine is on the heart of the pope's considerations. He took sturdy positions on the topic, talking of a “martyred country”. But he doesn’t need to be close to Zelensky and relations with the Greek Catholic Church, which could be very current in Ukraine, are tough.

It is obvious that the Vatican at the moment could be very all for sustaining good relations with China.

He won’t ever facet with one nation in opposition to one other. And he deployed cardinals on the bottom on humanitarian journeys, which is essential. Francis' coronary heart aches for Ukraine, and his pacifism is motivated by the struggling of Ukrainians. They are those who pay the best value for the struggle. This is why Francis says we will need to have the braveness to barter. When he speaks of “raising the white flag”, it’s to interrupt the framework set by struggle propaganda.

READ ALSO Mgr Matthieu Rougé: “We are in a dialogue of the deaf with political power” Should Ukraine increase the white flag?

We want to begin negotiations. That's his concept. But he is aware of nicely that to barter it’s a must to be in two elements. The discourse on China is extra advanced. Why couldn't the Vatican signal agreements with China when all states achieve this? The Vatican is pursuing a coverage in China because it does with authoritarian international locations, in order that the Church retains an area of worship, an area of life. There are 10 million Catholics in China, it's a minority maybe, however we should hold the church buildings open, a minimal of freedom.

The Pope is criticized, an excessive amount of criticized. I see bishops and apostolic nuncios who communicate of him with out respect, even in opposition to him. This is a major problem within the Church: the lack of the sense of unity.

I do know the state of affairs in China is tough. But the Vatican has invented a mechanism for appointing bishops and the final phrase stays with the pope. And that could be very attention-grabbing, as a result of the Chinese acknowledged a international authority just like the papacy on their territory. When an amazing chief of the Italian Communist Party, Pajetta, on the time of Vatican II, visited Mao Zedong's China, he had a mission from the Vatican: to have the ability to ship bishops. And Mao replied: “But why are you asking me this favor? Our sovereignty extends from earth to heaven…” It is obvious that the Vatican is at the moment very all for sustaining good relations with China. But there’s nonetheless the nunciature in Taiwan…

Currently, Sant'Egidio is criticized mezza voce for its relations with Russia. Some even whisper that your group is financed by Russian cash to affect the Pope's insurance policies…

First of all, pondering of getting affect on the pope's insurance policies is absurd. Funded by the Russians? Who says this? If you inform me the title, I’ll instantly file a grievance in opposition to this individual… This is absurd! This is a part of the paranoia in a local weather of struggle. We have all the time had a relationship with the Russian Church, just like the Pope, just like the archbishops of Paris have. But we’re centered on Ukraine.

We distributed 32 million euros – this can be a important determine for an NGO like ours – to assist Ukrainians affected by starvation and poverty with meals and medication. It’s serving to the folks’s resistance. We have a number of help and distribution facilities in Ukraine, and we now have obtained thanks from the Ukrainian authorities for our motion. We don't do it with Russian cash. The solely state help we now have obtained is American humanitarian help. The saddest factor in Russia particularly, but additionally in Ukraine, is non secular nationalism, a form of secularization of the religion and idolatry of the nation.

We additionally hear that there’s a plot by conservatives in opposition to Pope Francis to affect the nomination of his successor throughout the subsequent conclave. What do you assume ?

The Pope is criticized, an excessive amount of criticized. I see bishops and apostolic nuncios who communicate of him with out respect, even in opposition to him. This is a major problem within the Church: the lack of the sense of unity. This world “in pieces” calls for a Church “in pieces”. From what I see, from what I learn, sure stress teams would have the thought of ​​imposing the conclave. We make lists of cardinals, from the proper, from the left, propaganda is put in place, particularly within the United States. Those who do that are a bit fanatical and ingenuous.

But there’s a very explicit chemistry, religious and human, in a conclave, many cardinals are new, and really intelligent who can predict the result. We communicate of a “Bergoglian” conclave, because the cardinals can be his creatures – he named them. But what does it imply to be “Bergoglian” with out Bergoglio? In historical past, those that are given favorites firstly of a conclave by no means win. As an previous Roman that I’m, and as a person who has spent his life learning the papacy, I do know from expertise an immutable rule: whoever enters the conclave as pope comes out as cardinal.

* « Prayers, poor, peace. The ABC of Sant'Egidio »by Jean-Dominique Durand (Cerf, February 2024, 315 p., 24 euros).