In this preview of an interview Pope Francis has given to the Spanish daily ABC, the pope responds to a variety of questions regarding what he would like for Christmas, memories of his homeland of Argentina, and his wish to be close to the people even though his institutional role can make that difficult.
In response to one of the first questions, the pope acknowledged that sometimes his words are taken out of context, also as a way for those asking him questions to go were they want to with the discussion and answers, but that is the reality.
Some of the questions asked included the following:
Q: How is your knee?
A: I am already walking, the decision not to have an operation turned out to be right. It feels very good … (laughing) Yes, I’ve already reached the age where people feel obliged they must say, ‘You look good!’
Q: When I saw you in the wheelchair I thought your schedule would be scaled down, instead, it has tripled…
A: You govern with your head, not with your knee.
Q: On 13 March you will celebrate ten years as pope. Your election took us all by surprise…
A: And me too. I had booked my return ticket to be back in Buenos Aires in time for Palm Sunday. I was very calm.
Q: How has learning to be pope gone for you?
A: I do not know if I have learned how or not…. History catches you where you are.
Q: What do you find most difficult about being pope?
A: Not being able to walk in the streets, not being able to go out. In Buenos Aires, I was very free. I used public transport, I liked to see how people got on with life.
Q: But you still meet a lot of people…
A: Contact with people energizes me, that is why I have not cancelled a single Wednesday General Audience. But I miss going out into the streets because now the contact is functional. They go “to see the Pope,” that kind of formality. When I went out on the streets before, nobody even knew I was the cardinal (archbishop of Buenos Aires).
Here at Santa Marta, you see many people. Some can take advantage of it for their own interest and make it seem as if they are friends of the pope. Six or seven years ago an Argentinean candidate came to Mass. They took a photo outside the sacristy and I told him: “Please do not use it politically.’” “You can rest assured,” he replied. A week later, Buenos Aires was plastered with that photo, doctored to make it look like it was a personal audience. Yes, sometimes they use me. But we use God much more, so I keep quiet and move forward.
Q: It must also be difficult since every word you say is carefully measured…
A: Sometimes they do it with a hermeneutic based on what I have previously said in order to take me where they want me to go (with the topic). “The Pope said this”… Yes, but I said it in a specific context. If you take what I said out of context, it means something else.
Q: No Pope has ever given press conferences or interviews speaking as freely as you have…
A: Times change.
Q: What gift would you ask for this Christmas?
A: Peace in the world. How many wars there are in the world! The war in Ukraine touches us more closely, but we also think of Myanmar, Yemen, Syria, where fighting has continued for thirteen years.
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