Pope Interviewed by Belgian Youth Group

Speaks Candidly on Poverty, Throwaway Culture, Personal Experiences

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 1557 hits

Pope Francis has given a candid interview to five young people from a youth group in Fiandre, Belgium, who interviewed him for a communications project entitled, “Verse Vis.”.

The 30 minute video, entitled “Habemus Papam”, documents the journey of the young journalists, who come from various backgrounds and beliefs, and culminates with their interview with the Holy Father. Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent arranged the interview with the Pope, which took place on March 31st.

The first question was about the Holy Father’s focus on the poor. Pope Francis said that the poor and those affected by poverty are at the heart of the Gospel.

“Two months ago,” the Pope recalled, “I heard a person saying, when I spoke about the poor: ‘This Pope is a communist.’ And no, this is the banner of the Gospel, not of Communism but of the Gospel! It is poverty without ideology and that is why I believe the poor are at the center of the proclaimation of Jesus.”

One of the young people, who declared she was an atheist, said she was inspired by the Holy Father’s words and asked for a message for believers and nonbelievers alike. The Pope stressed the need for a dialogue spoken with authenticity and a knowledge that “we are all brothers.”

While man is at the center of history, he said, in today’s world, man has been taken away and replaced with power and money. The Holy Father emphasized the existence of a “throwaway culture” that regards, children and youth as an impediment. Highlighting the plight of the elderly, the Pope also said there is a “hidden euthanasia” that occurs because the elderly are no longer cared for.

However, the Holy Father expressed his hope that young politicians today are recognizing this and will act. These young politicians, he said “are happy because they - whether they are from the left or the right - speak a new ‘tune’, with a new tune, a new style of politics, and that gives me hope.”

When asked a question on what has he learned from past mistakes, the Pope replied laughing: “I have made mistakes and I [continue to] make mistakes.” The 77 year old Pontiff regarded mistakes as “the great teachers of life.”

“They are great teachers, they teach you so much. I won’t say that I have learned from all my mistakes, I haven’t because I am (knocks on desk), I’m hard-headed and it is not easy to learn. But I have learned from many mistakes and this has done me well.”

The Holy Father spoke candidly during his role as Superior General of the Jesuits, a time where he said he made “many mistakes with authoritarianism.”

“I was very authoritarian at 36 years old. And then I learned that you must dialogue, you should hear what others think, But it wasn’t learned once and for all. The path is long and I learned from my attitude that was a bit authoritarian as a religious superior to find a path to not be so much [...] but I still make mistakes."

Before concluding their interview, the young journalists asked the Pope if he had a question for them. Pope Francis replied by saying he would ask them something from the Gospel: “Where is your treasure?”

“What treasure does your heart rest in?” he asked.  “Because where your treasure is, that is where your life is. The heart is attached to treasure, a treasure that we all have, It can be power, money, pride, there are so many. Or is it goodness, beauty, the will to do good? There are so many treasures we can place our heart in. So where is your heart? That is the question that I will ask but you have to answer to yourselves alone, in your home.” (J.A.E.)

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On the NET:

For the video of the interview, go to: http://www.een.be/programmas/koppen/habemus-papam

Note: Video is in Flemish (Belgian Dutch), though questions are asked in English. The Pope responds in Italian.