Pope Francis on Ukraine, China, Islam, Democracy: The West Has "Lost"
On the flight back from Nur-Sultan, Francis doubted that arms deliveries to Ukraine were moral, flattered communist rulers and declared to the West that it had "lost."
(Rome) At the flying press conference last night, on the flight back from Nur-Sultan to Rome, Pope Francis commented on a wide range of topics. There was also an innovation. These flying press conferences during the Pope's trips abroad are particularly popular with the media. The more various the topics addressed were, the more different is the quality of the answers. Francis made it clear that arms deliveries to Ukraine are probably immoral, flattered socialist rulers gave his blessing to the totalitarian regime in the People's Republic of China, and declared to the West that it had "lost." He found clear words about euthanasia and said that the killing should be left to the "beasts".
Francis' communication with and for the world is not so much through the official pronouncements of the Holy See, but above all through his spontaneous statements. So far, the Vatican has left the majority of the reporting to the accompanying journalists. After numerous requests to the Vatican Press Office, the media work has now been changed on this point. The English edition of VaticanNews published a transcript of the press conference last night, albeit with the note that this is not an official translation of the Pope's words. This will continue to be submitted in various translations only at a time when the secular media have long since communicated and co-opted the Pope's statements in their own way. However, a first step in the right direction has been taken. Thus to the statements of Francis himself.
Nur-Sultan, the "forward-looking" city
The Pope attested to Kazakhstan and the planned capital Nur-Sultan that "they have developed well and intelligently". Its inhabitants are "very disciplined" and the country is "beautiful". The architecture of the city is "well balanced, well laid out". Nur-Sultan is a "modern city that I would describe as 'forward-looking'."
Francis described the congress of the leaders of the world's religionsand traditional religions as "a very important thing". The fact that it took place for the seventh time shows:
"(...) that "it is a country with a vision of the future that brings into dialogue those who are normally marginalized. Because there is a progressive world view for which religious values must first be thrown overboard."
Arms deliveries are immoral rather than moral
Afterward, correspondent Rüdiger Kronthaler celebrated the German cult of guilt, he asked Francis whether weapons should be delivered to Ukraine. Francis responded in a differentiated way. Arms deliveries are a "political decision", and this can be moral, but must meet "many conditions". The Pope indicated that it is more likely to be "immoral"
"(...) is done with the intention of provoking further wars or selling weapons or throwing away those that I no longer need."
Self-defense as an expression of patriotism
Motivation qualifies action. At the same time, Francis broke a lance for self-defense:
"Defending oneself is not only legitimate, but also an expression of love for the fatherland. Whoever does not defend himself, who does not defend something, does not love it, but he who defends it loves it."
This touches on another aspect, Francis said. He had pointed out in his speeches that:
"(...) one should think more about the concept of just war. Because peace is on everyone's lips today: for many years, for seventy years, the United Nations has been talking about peace, making many speeches about peace. But how many wars are there right now?"
In doing so, Francis also diverted his gaze away from Ukraine, which is currently concentrating all its attention on the West, in order to show that there are many armed conflicts in the world, but which would find little interest in the West. At the same time, he repeated his statement that "we are in a world war" without explaining in more detail how exactly he means by this drastic choice of words.
"Peace is greater than all wars"
Rather, he told a childhood memory:
"I remember something personal when I was a child, I was nine years old. I remember the alarm of the largest newspaper in Buenos Aires sounding: back then they rang it to celebrate or announce bad news – today it no longer rings – and it could be heard all over the city. My mother said, 'What's going on here?' We were at war, in 1945. A neighbor came to the house and said, 'The alarm has gone off...' and shouted, 'The war is over!'. And I still see my mother and neighbor crying with joy because the war was over, in a South American country, so far away! These women knew that peace is greater than all wars, and they wept with joy when peace was made. I can't forget that."
Peace was by no means concluded at the time, but Francis wanted to say something else with his story:
"I wonder: I don't know if we are well enough educated in our hearts today that we cry for joy when we see peace. Everything has changed. If you don't go to war, you're not useful! And then there's the arms business. This is a business of murderers. Someone who is familiar with statistics told me that all the hunger in the world would be solved if you stopped making weapons for a year... I don't know if that's true or not. But hunger, education... it doesn't help, it doesn't work because you have to make weapons."
"War itself is a mistake, it is a mistake! And we breathe this air at this moment: if there is no war, there seems to be no life. A bit confusing, but I have already said everything I wanted to say about the just war. The right to defend oneself, yes, but also to use it when necessary."
"Without an outstretched hand, we close the only reasonable door to peace"
At the same time, Francis affirmed that dialogue must always be sought. The "annoying" sometimes and some, but is indispensable:
"We should give everyone a chance for dialogue, everyone! Because there is always the possibility that we can change things in dialogue and also offer a different point of view, a different point of view. I do not rule out dialogue with any power, whether it is at war or the aggressor... sometimes you have to have a dialogue, but you have to do it, it 'annoys', but you have to do it. Always one step forward, always an outstretched hand! Because otherwise we will close the only reasonable door to peace."
"The declining West has lost"
In this context, Francis spoke of the West:
"It is true that the West in general is not currently at the highest level of excellence. It's not an [innocent] First Communion child, not really. The West has taken the wrong paths."
As a concrete example, however, Francis only mentioned "social injustice". Although he addressed the "demographic winter" that prevails in the West, he only promotes mass immigration that the West "really needs" because of its birth deficit.
"On the other hand, in view of the demographic winter, the question arises: Where are we going, where are we going? The West is in decline, it is a little in decline, it has lost..."
Where are the politicians who move society forward?"
At the same time, he denounced the political failure. Where are great figures such as Schuman, Adenauer, De Gasperi:
"Where are they today? There are great people, but they don't manage to move society forward."
Francis did not elaborate on what united the three statesmen mentioned, nor on the fact that this common cultural, historical, ethical, and religious basis of being German or German Catholic Central Europeans has been consistently smashed for a hundred years.
"Let's leave the killing to the beasts", hence no to euthanasia
Francis found a pleasing and unusually concise and clear statement when asked about euthanasia:
"Killing is inhumane, quite simply. If you kill with motivation, yes... then you will kill more and more in the end. Let's leave the killing to the beasts."
"I don't think it's right to call China undemocratic"
Francis, on the other hand, was very cautious about the People's Republic of China:
"It takes a century to understand China, and we haven't lived a century."
An evasive romanticized statement in the face of a totalitarian communist regime that has only ruled China for 73 years, i.e. has not yet been in power for a hundred years.
"It's not easy to understand the Chinese mentality, but we have to respect it, I always respect it. And here in the Vatican there is a well-functioning dialogue commission chaired by Cardinal Parolin, who at the moment is the man who knows best about China and Chinese dialogue. It's progressing slowly, but there's always progress."
Francis, in his attempt to woo the red rulers in Beijing, falls into a fatal error with frightening ease by adopting a Marxist-Leninist diction:
"I don't think it's right to call China anti-democratic, because it's such a complex country."
"These women are good revolutionaries, but of the gospel"
He showed the same leniency towards the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua:
"As for Nicaragua, the news is clear. There is a dialogue. There have been talks with the government, there is a dialogue. This does not mean that I approve of everything the government does, or that I disapprove of everything. No. There is a dialogue and the problems need to be resolved. At the moment there are problems. At least I hope that the nuns of Mother Teresa will return. These women are good revolutionaries, but of the gospel! They don't wage war against anyone. On the contrary, we all need these women."
"We are working intensively on coexistence with Muslims"
As far as the relationship to Islam is concerned, it is about "coexistence with Muslims":
"We are working intensively on this."
At the Congress of the Leaders of the World Religions, there was "no relativism whatsoever."
In this context, the striking praise for Kazakhstan and Nur-Sultan can also be seen. At the congress of religious leaders in Nur-Sultan there was "no relativism":
"No relativism at all. Everyone had their own opinion, each respected the other's point of view, but we talked like brothers. Because if there is no dialogue, there is either ignorance or war. It is better to live as brothers, because we have one thing in common: we are all human beings. Let's live like people who are well educated: what do you think, what do I think? Let's agree, let's talk, let's get to know each other. Often these misunderstood 'religious' wars are due to a lack of knowledge. And this is not relativism, I do not renounce my faith when I talk to someone who has another, on the contrary. I cherish my faith because someone else listens to him, and I listen to his."
"Whoever thinks only of money and the development of pastoral plans does not bring anything forward"
On the question of the decline in the number of attendees at Mass, specifically in Germany, Francis found surprisingly clear words. Is it a scolding for Cardinal Marx and the bishops Bätzing, Bode et al.?:
"If a Church, no matter in which country or in which area, thinks more of money, of development, of pastoral plans and not of pastoral work and takes this path, then she does not attract people. [...] Sometimes – I'm talking about everyone, in general, not only in Germany – people think about how to renew pastoral care, how to make it more modern: that's good, but it must always be in the hands of a pastor. When pastoral care is in the hands of pastoral 'scientists' who express their opinions here and say what to do... (you can't get any further, VaticanNews note). Jesus founded the Church with shepherds, not with political leaders."
Said the "politician on the chair of Peter". Francis himself said during his answers that he or what he said might be a bit "chaotic", "impenetrable", or "confused". But it is clear what he wants to say, according to the head of the Church.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Vatican.va (Screenshot)