After poring over thousands of articles about Pope Francis, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of him. And then I read the interview and realised how much more there was still to know. Here are 12 things I learned, writes Luke Coppen.
- The Catholic Herald
His top priority for the Church
When asked to say what the Church needs most at this moment in history, Pope Francis did not mention Curial reform, a revitalised priesthood or the new evangelisation. He said that 'the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.' Healing wounds, warming hearts: that’s how he sees his mission as Bishop of Rome.
He wants Catholics to stop complaining about how bad the world is
In his morning homilies, Pope Francis has often spoken of the futility of complaining, but I was still struck by how exasperated he is by Catholics who focus on the wickedness of the world. He thinks this attitude paralyses the Church. As he put it: 'The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is – these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the Church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defence. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.'
The roots of his empathy for gay people
I knew that Pope Francis had met a gay rights leader in Buenos Aires, but I’d never heard him mention the letters he used to receive there 'from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the Church has always condemned them.' These contacts clearly moved him and help to explain what one commentator has called his 'revolutionary empathy' with gay people.
He thinks the Church is emerging from a period of intellectual decadence
Pope Francis believes his own formation took place during a period of intellectual dryness in the Church. 'Unfortunately,' he explained, 'I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism.'
It’s not clear when he thinks this decadent period ended. My guess would be the Second Vatican Council.