This interview with Pope Francis from August 2013, in Rome, is with Antonio Spadaro SJ, editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal. It covered topics from his papal apartment to Fellini films. Excerpts and analysis within.
- America magazine
I have the first question ready, but then I decide not to follow the script that I had prepared for myself, and I ask him point-blank: 'Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?'
The Pope stares at me in silence. I ask him if this is a question that I am allowed to ask.... He nods that it is, and he tells me: 'I do not know what might be the most fitting description.... I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.'
I continue with the first question that I was going to ask: 'Holy Father, what made you choose to enter the Society of Jesus? What struck you about the Jesuit Order?'
'I wanted something more. But I did not know what. I entered the diocesan seminary. I liked the Dominicans and I had Dominican friends. But then I chose the Society of Jesus, which I knew well because the seminary was entrusted to the Jesuits.
'Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community and discipline. And this is strange, because I am a really, really undisciplined person.
'But their discipline, the way they manage their time—these things struck me so much.
'And then a thing that is really important for me: community. I was always looking for a community. I did not see myself as a priest on my own. I need a community. And you can tell this by the fact that I am here in Santa Marta...
I ask Pope Francis, 'What does the church need most at this historic moment? Do we need reforms? What are your wishes for the church in the coming years? What kind of church do you dream of?'
'I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle...
'We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.
'But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.'
Read full interview: A Big Heart Open to God (America)
George Weigel: Called to encounter Christ: How not to misunderstand Pope Francis (ABC Religion and Ethics)
Fr Ed Reese SJ on the Francis interview (The Catholic Sun)
Biography of Pope Francis (Vatican website)
World Celebrates Election of Pope Francis (Archdiocese of Sydney)
Francis is first pope from the Americas (The Malta Independent)
Bergoglio up close (Vatican Insider)
What type of man is the new pope? (RTE Radio)
Profile: Pope Francis (RTE Television)
Pope Francis brings 'profound hope' to Catholics (South China Morning Post)
'Mi corrigerete', 'buonasera' first papal greetings from Paul VI to Francis (Corriere TV Dall'Italia)