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Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight back to Rome from Lisbon on Sunday (CNS/Lola Gomez)

Pope Francis said on Sunday he ditched speeches during his five-day trip to Portugal and spoke off-the-cuff not because he was tired or feeling unwell, but to better communicate with young people. Source: Sight Magazine.

Pope Francis was asked about his health en route home from Lisbon, where he presided over World Youth Day. It was his first trip since he was hospitalised in June for nine days following last-minute surgery to repair an abdominal hernia and remove intestinal scar tissue.

The trip, which came during a heat wave that sent temperatures to 40 degrees Celsius in Lisbon, was notable because the 86-year-old pontiff deviated so often from his speeches, homilies and even prayers, which are usually drafted months in advance and crafted with specific events and audiences in mind.

One of the most notable deviations was a prayer for peace that Francis was supposed to have delivered in the Portuguese shrine of Fatima, which is famous precisely because of its century-old connection to exhortations for peace and Russia’s conversion in the aftermath of World War I.

Instead of pronouncing the prayer, Francis ad-libbed his speech before the statue of the Madonna and skipped the peace prayer entirely, instead reciting a Hail Mary.

Asked why, Francis insisted he had prayed silently for peace but didn’t want to give “publicity” to a public prayer.

“I prayed! I prayed! I prayed to the Madonna and I prayed for peace. I didn’t make publicity. But I prayed. And we have to continually repeat this prayer for peace.”

The Pope said he cut short his other speeches because young people “don’t have a lot of attention” and that he needed to engage them, not lecture them with lengthy, complicated discourses or homilies.

“Homilies can sometimes be torture,” he said. “Blah, blah, blah.”

In other comments, Francis affirmed that he included LGBTQ+ Catholics in his exhortation that “todos, todos, todos” (everyone, everyone, everyone) is welcome in the Church. 


Pope discusses health, his ditched peace prayer in Fatima and LGBTQ+ Catholics in airborne briefing (By Nicole Winfield, AP via Sight Magazine)


Pope Francis explains why he skipped Fatima prayer for peace (CNA)

Pope says ban on women priests, gay marriage doesn’t mean Church is ‘closed’ (Crux)

Pope doubles down on message that church is open to all, including LGBTQ people and women (NCR Online)