At the end of his seventh apostolic trip, on return flight from Manila to Rome, the Pope again answered questions from the journalists who accompanied him on the flight. He confessed that he had been most impressed and moved by the gestures of the Filipino people, gestures which expressed “faith, love, family, hopes, the future. … True enthusiasm,joy, happiness, able to celebrate even in the rain”. On the other hand, he also noted the resignation of the Filipinos, who “know suffering”.
The Pontiff spoke about the possibility of an apostolic trip to Central Africa or Uganda at the end of the year, and confirmed that he will travel to Philadelphia to attend the World Meeting of Families, to New York, where he will visit the United Nations, and Washington. He commented that he would like to travel to California for the canonisation of Junipero Serra, but time restrictions make this unlikely. With regard to South America, he said that there were proposals for trips to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay over the coming year.
A summary of the Pope's answers is given below.
- On the question about religious freedom and freedom of expression, posed on the flight from Colombo to Manila, and the confusion it generated
“In theory, it may be said that the Gospel says we must turn the other cheek. In theory, we can say that we have the freedom to express ourselves, and this is important. In theory we are all in agreement, but we are human, and so there is prudence, which is a virtue in human coexistence. I cannot continually provoke or insult someone, because I would risk angering them, I risk receiving a reaction that is not right, not right. But it is human. Therefore, I say that the freedom of expression must take into consideration the reality of humanity, and for this reason I say that we must be prudent. This means we must be polite and prudent, as prudence is the virtue that regulates human relations”.
- On corruption throughout the world and in the Church
“In today's world, corruption is the order of the day and corrupt attitudes easily establish themselves in institutions, since an institution has many components here and there, it has many heads and deputies, and so is very easy for corruption to take root there. Any institution can fall prey to this. Corruption means taking from the population. A corrupt person, who makes corrupt deals, or who governs in a corrupt fashion, or who associates with others to make corrupt deals, steals from the people. They are the victims. … Today it is a worldwide problem. … And with regard to corruption in ecclesiastical institutions … when I speak about the Church, I like to speak about the faithful, the baptised, all the Church. And in this case it is better to speak about sinners. We are all sinners, aren't we? But when we speak about corruption, we speak about corrupt people, or Church institutions that have fallen prey to corruption, and there are cases. … It is easy for corruption to take root, but let's remember this: sinners yes, corrupt no! We must never be corrupt. We must ask for forgiveness for those Catholics, those Christians, who scandalise with their corruption. It is a wound in the Church; but there are many saints, and sinners who are holy but not corrupt”.
- On responsible parenthood
“I think that three is the number of children per family that the experts say is correct to maintain the population, three per couple. When there are fewer than this, there is the other extreme, which we see in Italy where I have heard – I do not know if it is true – that from 2024 there will not be the money to pay pensioners. The key phrase to answer this question is the one that the Church has always used: responsible parenthood. How does one do this? Through dialogue. Every person, accompanied by their pastor, must find out how to achieve responsible parenthood. … Some believe that – excuse the expression – to be good Catholics we must be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear, and for this reason in the Church here are matrimonial groups, experts in this. I know of many, many legitimate ways to achieve this. … On the other hand, for the poorest people, a child is a treasure. It is true, we must also be careful here. But for them, a child is a treasure. God knows how to help them. Perhaps some are not careful in this respect, it is true. Parenthood must be responsible. But look also at the generosity of those fathers and mothers who see every child as a treasure”.
- On the Pope's remark that the world needs to weep
“One of the things that is lost when there is too much comfort, or values are not well-understood, or we get used to injustice, to this throwaway culture, is the capacity to weep. It is a grace that we must ask for. … We Christians must ask for the grace to weep, especially those Christians who are well-off; to weep about injustice and sin. Weeping opens you to the understanding of new realities or new dimensions of reality”.