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Pope Francis says he hopes Vatican-China deal will be renewed

Pope Francis waves at pilgrims from China at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on Sept. 7, 2016. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2022 / 04:49 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said he hopes the Vatican’s provisional agreement with China on the appointment of Catholic bishops will be renewed for the second time in October.

In comments to Reuters published Tuesday, the pope said “the agreement is moving well and I hope that in October it can be renewed.”

The Vatican-China agreement was first signed in September 2018 and then renewed for another two years in October 2020. The terms of the agreement have not been made public.

Pope Francis spoke to Reuters about the China deal in a 90-minute interview which also covered his health, resignation rumors, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

In September 2021, the Vatican confirmed that the sixth Catholic bishop had been ordained under the agreement’s terms.

Seven bishops ordained before the 2018 agreement have also had their positions regularized by the Vatican.

Pope Francis said the appointment of bishops under the deal in China “is going slowly, but they are being appointed.”

The slow process, he said, is “‘the Chinese way,’ because the Chinese have that sense of time that nobody can rush them.”

Father Bernardo Cervellera, former editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, told CNA last year that the bishops who have been nominated and ordained are close to the Patriotic Catholic Association, “so this means that they are very near to the government.”

The Catholic Church is still in need of around 40 more bishops in China, according to Cervellera.

In the Reuters interview, Pope Francis said the Chinese “also have their own problems because it is not the same situation in every region of the country. [The treatment of Catholics] also depends on local leaders.”

He also defended the Vatican-China deal against its critics.

“Diplomacy is the art of the possible and of doing things to make the possible become a reality,” he said.

He compared today’s critics and those who spoke negatively of the Vatican’s diplomatic decisions during the Cold War, when the popes struck deals with Eastern European communist governments in an attempt to protect the interests of the Catholic Church.

“Diplomacy is like that. When you face a blocked situation, you have to find the possible way, not the ideal way, out of it,” the pope said.

A personal way to govern: Why Pope Francis uses Apostolic Letters the way he does

Pope Francis / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2022 / 09:06 am (CNA).

It is no coincidence that Pope Francis chose the form of an apostolic letter to write about liturgy. Nor that he chose to write it one year after the publication of the Traditionis custodes, the motu proprio with which he abolished the liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass by Benedict XVI.

Published on June 29 and entitled Desiderio desideravi, the document not only drives home his concerns with the liturgy. It also shines a light on the thought — and the modus operandi — of Pope Francis. 

In the 15-page apostolic letter, the pope said he wanted “to invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration.”

Pope Francis also said, after writing a letter to bishops to accompany Traditionis custodes, he wished to address all Catholics with some reflections on liturgical formation, the theological importance of the Mass, and acceptance of the liturgical documents of the Second Vatican Council.

Notably, this is the 83rd time that Pope Francis has used the form of the apostolic letter to convey an authoritative opinion. 

When it comes to expressing the pope’s teaching authority, his magisterium, an apostolic letter ranks fourth in the hierarchy of pontifical documents. The most important would be an apostolic constitution, followed by a papal encyclical, and then an apostolic exhortation.

Pope Francis, however, has always favored "light" legislative instruments, which require less effort in drafting – and do not undergo a longer approval process.

An apostolic constitution, for example, must be consistent with canon law and other prescriptions of the Church. For this reason, Praedicate evangelium, which regulates the functions and offices of the Curia, has had a long gestation period and still awaits full implementation.

The same is true of a papal encyclical, which is concerned with expressing the magisterium – and cannot be linked only to contingent moments. 

The third most important kind of document, an apostolic exhortation, is a more particular and personal instrument of the pope. In the case of a post-synodal exhortation, it will draw on the fruits of a Synod of Bishops.

It is worth noting that Pope Francis' governmental program takes the form of an apostolic exhortation: Evangelii gaudium replaced the post-synodal apostolic exhortation expected after the Synod on the Word of God in 2012.

Of that synod — the last of the pontificate of Benedict XVI — no trace remains.

When Pope Francis had to legislate, he mainly used the form of a motu proprio (the Vatican website lists 49 of them) and rescripts. These are officially called rescripta ex audientia sanctissimi, i. e. orders of the Pope, written following a personal audience.

Neither of these types of decisions require approval by the Roman Curia.

The use of the apostolic letter, like an executive order, also demonstrates a development of this pontificate: Pope Francis did not initially use these as a form of government. Ultimately, however, that is how he most of all expressed his thoughts and decisions.

Beyond apostolic letters in the form of a motu proprio, which have a legal purpose and effect, the letters of Pope Francis are also instruments for addressing the people of God. 

The document Desiderio desideravi serves a variety of purposes:

  1. It is a personal letter with which Pope Francis addresses a specific theme – the liturgy.

  2. It is a letter that carries legal clout because Pope Francis reaffirms what was decided in Traditionis Custodes – and denies any possibility of liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass.

  3. It is a letter that never mentions his predecessor Benedict XVI, whose decision he subverts, establishing a clear rupture between the before and after.

In other words, Pope Francis is using this apostolic letter in a very particular way to reinforce a personal decision.

The government of Pope Francis is deeply personal, so much so that his own point of view is expressed as magisterium.  Pope Francis thus shows himself to be a particular kind of centralizer: Faced with the various expressions of the Church, Pope Francis does not fail to enforce unity, making choices that exclude, in fact, a plurality of forms. Whoever celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, for Pope Francis, uses a different rite, and is outside the tradition of continuity of the Church.

We might say that whenever the Pope finds resistance, he gets around it using whatever instrument is available to him. Hence, even the use of "lighter" documents ultimately constitute a form of legislation. In the end, they are the quickest means available to the Pope to govern effectively without consulting too much.

'For the moment, no. Really!' – Pope Francis dismisses resignation rumors, says health is improving

Pope Francis / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2022 / 06:12 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has said he has no plans to resign soon and that his knee injury is healing.

Reports of Francis resigning began to spread last month in light of three events to happen in late August, including the creation of new cardinals and a day trip to the Italian city of L’Aquila, which Benedict XVI visited in 2009, four years before announcing his own resignation. 

Pope Francis told Reuters in an interview published July 4 that “all of these coincidences made some think that the same ‘liturgy’ would happen. But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!”

The pope did say, as in the past, that he would consider resigning one day if he could no longer run the Church due to poor health, but only “God will say” when that might be.

The 90-minute interview with Reuters took place on July 2 in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, where Pope Francis lives. He frequently holds meetings in a reception room on the building’s ground floor.

According to Reuters, the pope arrived for the interview using a cane.

He joked, “I’m still alive!” when asked how he was doing. He also explained that he had suffered “a small fracture” in his right knee after stepping wrongly with an inflamed ligament.

The fracture is healing, he said, with the help of laser and magnet therapy. “I am well, I am slowly getting better.”

Pope Francis expressed regret that, due to the knee injury, he had to cancel a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, scheduled for July 2-7, saying the decision caused him “much suffering.”

The decision came after doctors said he needs 20 more days of therapy and rest for his knee before he travels to Canada July 24-30.

The pope also brushed off rumors that he has cancer.

Some reports have claimed Francis is suffering from colon cancer after he underwent an operation to remove part of his large intestine due to diverticulitis one year ago.

“[The operation] was a great success,” he told Reuters, adding with a laugh that “they didn’t tell me anything” about the supposed cancer, which he dismissed as “court gossip.”

He added that he does not want to have surgery on his knee because of the negative side-effects of general anesthetic.

In the interview, Pope Francis also addressed the U.S Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision, and answered a question about pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Holy Communion.

He also spoke about the war in Ukraine and reiterated his desire to visit Kyiv and Moscow.

No pope has ever visited Moscow, but Francis hinted that there may now be an opening, even if Russian authorities told the Vatican several months ago it was not the right time.

“I would like to go [to Ukraine], and I wanted to go to Moscow first. We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the Russian president gave me a small window to serve the cause of peace,” he said.

“And now it is possible,” he said, “after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine. The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals.”

The pope said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has been in contact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible trip to the Russian capital.

Pope Francis condemns abortion in new comments about Roe v. Wade decision, responds to question on Communion

Pope Francis speaks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi after Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2022 / 03:43 am (CNA).

Pope Francis condemned abortion in new comments about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

When asked whether a Catholic politician who supports the right to choose abortion can receive the sacrament of Communion, he warned of bishops losing their “pastoral nature.”

Speaking to Reuters over the weekend, the pope said he respected the ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, though he did not know enough to speak about the juridical aspects.

The interview, published July 4, said Francis compared abortion to “hiring a hit man.”

“I ask: Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?” Pope Francis said.

He was also asked about the debate over whether Catholic politicians who promote legal abortion should be admitted to Holy Communion.

In May, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was barred from receiving Communion in her home diocese of San Francisco by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone because of her advocacy of abortion.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly received Holy Communion at a Mass with Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 29. It is not clear if the pope was aware that Pelosi attended, though the Vatican issued a photo showing the two greeting each other in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis told Reuters: “When the Church loses its pastoral nature, when a bishop loses his pastoral nature, it causes a political problem. That’s all I can say.”

The 90-minute interview in Italian took place on July 2 in a reception room on the ground floor of the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, where the pope lives.

In addition to the abortion topic, the interview covered the pope’s health, resignation rumors, and the possibility of trips to Kyiv and Moscow.

Pope Francis: Evangelization is not ‘personal activism’ but a witness of love

Pope Francis prays the Angelus from the window of the Apostolic Palace on July 3, 2022. / Vatican Media/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2022 / 06:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that evangelization should not be seen as “personal activism,” but a witness of love in relationship with others.

In his Angelus address on July 3, the pope posed a question: “How do we bring the good news of the Gospel to others?

“Do we do it with a fraternal spirit and style or in the manner of the world with prominence, competitiveness, and efficiency?” he asked.

Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope encouraged Catholics to work in collaboration with “the witness of fraternity.”

“It is possible to develop perfect pastoral plans, implement well-made projects, organize down to the smallest details. You can summon crowds and have many means, but if there is no availability for one's brothers and sisters, the evangelical mission does not advance,” the pope said.

Pope Francis reflected on how Jesus sent his disciples “two by two” in Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 10:1-9).

“The disciples were sent two by two, not individually. Going on a mission two by two, from a practical point of view, would seem to have more disadvantages than advantages. There is a risk that the two do not get along, that they have a different pace, that one gets tired or gets sick along the way, forcing the other to stop too. On the other hand, when you are alone, it seems that the journey becomes faster and smoother. However, Jesus does not think so: in front of him he does not send lonely people, but disciples who go two by two,” the pope said.

“Let us ask ourselves if we have the ability to collaborate, if we know how to make decisions together, sincerely respecting those around us and taking into account their point of view, if we do it in community, not alone. In fact, it is above all in this way that the life of the disciple reveals that of the Master, really announcing him to others,” he said.

After praying the Angelus with the crowd, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine.

“I appeal to the leaders of nations and international organizations to react to the tendency to accentuate conflict and confrontation,” he said.

The pope underlined that the world needs to move from focusing on political, economic, and military power strategies to a “global peace project,” which says “no to a world divided among conflicting powers” and “yes to a world united among peoples and civilizations that respect each other.”

He said: “The world needs peace — not a peace based on the balance of arms, on mutual fear. No, this will not do. This is turning history back seventy years.”

“The Ukrainian crisis should have been, but — if you want it to be — can still become a challenge for wise statesmen, capable of building in dialogue a better world for new generations. With God's help, this is always possible!”

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Congolese rite: ‘Peace begins with us’

Pope Francis celebrated Mass for Rome’s Congolese community in St. Peter's Basilica on July 3, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2022 / 04:10 am (CNA).

Amid singing, clapping, and dancing to traditional Congolese music, Pope Francis celebrated the Zaire Use of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.

The pope began his homily on July 3 with the word, “esengo,” which means “joy” in Lingala, the Bantu-based creole spoken in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and by millions of speakers across Central Africa.

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass for Rome’s Congolese community on the day that he was due to offer Mass in Kinshasa before his trip to Africa was canceled at the request of the pope’s doctors.

The pope, whose mobility has been limited due to a knee injury, remained seated throughout the Mass. Francis presided over the Liturgy of the Word and gave the homily. Archbishop Richard Gallagher offered the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

“Today, dear brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace and reconciliation in your homeland, in the wounded and exploited Democratic Republic of Congo,” Pope Francis said.

“We join the Masses celebrated in the country according to this intention and pray that Christians may be witnesses of peace, capable of overcoming any feeling of resentment, any feeling of vengeance, overcoming the temptation that reconciliation is not possible, any unhealthy attachment to their own group that leads to despising others.”

The pope underlined that the Lord calls all Christians to be “ambassadors of peace.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced a wave of violence in recent years. Dozens of armed groups are believed to operate in the eastern region of DR Congo despite the presence of more than 16,000 UN peacekeepers. Local Catholic bishops have repeatedly appealed for an end to the bloodshed.

“Brother, sister, peace begins with us,” Pope Francis said.

"If you live in his peace, Jesus arrives and your family, your society changes. They change if your heart is not at war in the first place, it is not armed with resentment and anger, it is not divided, it is not double, it is not false. Putting peace and order in one's heart, defusing greed, extinguishing hatred and resentment, fleeing corruption, fleeing cheating and cunning: this is where peace begins.”

Peace was expected to be a key theme of the pope’s canceled Africa trip. Pope Francis was planning to spend July 2-5 in the Congolese cities of Kinshasa and Goma, and July 5-7 in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

After the Vatican announced that the trip was postponed due to the ongoing medical treatment for the pope’s knee pain, Pope Francis said on June 13: “We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Congolese in Rome, of which there are many.”

About 2,000 people were present in the inculturated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the first Sunday of July.

Women in brightly colored traditional dresses sang and danced as they prayed the Gloria. People clapped and shouted as Archbishop Richard Gallagher incensed the main altar.

The gifts were brought up to the altar in a dancing procession. Religious sisters in the pews stepped from side to side together to the music.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis greeted some members of the local Congolese community from his wheelchair.

“May the Lord help us to be missionaries today, going in the company of brother and sister; having on his lips the peace and closeness of God; carrying in the heart the meekness and goodness of Jesus, Lamb who takes away the sins of the world,” the pope said.

The Zaire Use of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is an inculturated Mass formally approved in 1988 for the dioceses of what was then known as the Republic of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The only inculturated Eucharistic celebration approved after the Second Vatican Council, it was developed following a call for adaptation of the liturgy in "Sacrosanctum concilium," Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

In a video message in 2020, Pope Francis said: "The experience of the Congolese rite of the celebration of Mass can serve as an example and model for other cultures.”

Pope Francis ‘greatly disappointed’ over missing trip to Africa this week

Pope Francis recorded a video message for the people of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. / Screenshot of YouTube video

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2022 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has said that he is “greatly disappointed” that he had to postpone his trip to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was supposed to take place this week.

In a video message published on July 2, the pope urged the Congolese and South Sudanese people place their hope in God.

“I want to tell you this: do not let yourselves be robbed of hope,” Pope Francis said.

“Think, you who are so dear to me, of how much more you are precious and beloved in the eyes of God, who never disappoints those who put their hope in him. You have a great mission, all of you, beginning with your political leaders: it is that of turning a page in order to blaze new trails, new paths of reconciliation and forgiveness, of serene coexistence and of development.”

The Vatican announced on June 10 that the pope’s trip to Africa, originally scheduled for July 2-7, had to be postponed at the request of his doctors “in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee.”

The 85-year-old has been suffering from an inflamed ligament in his knee, limiting his ability to walk. He has been using a wheelchair and a walking cane during public appearances since the first week of May.

“The Lord knows how greatly disappointed I am to have had to postpone this long awaited and much-desired visit. But we remain confident and hopeful that we shall be able to meet as soon as possible. In the meantime, I would like to tell you that, particularly in these weeks, you have been that much closer to my heart. I carry within me, in prayer, the pain that you have endured for all too long,” Pope Francis said.

“I think of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the exploitation, violence and insecurity from which it suffers, particularly in the east of the country, where armed conflicts continue to cause much intense suffering, aggravated by the indifference and the convenience of many.”

“I think of South Sudan and the plea for peace arising from its people who, weary of violence and poverty, await concrete results from the process of national reconciliation.”

Pope Francis said that he would like to contribute to the peace process by making an ecumenical pilgrimage in the future with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin is currently visiting Democratic Republic of Congo this week as a representative of the pope for a July 1-8 trip that will also include a visit to South Sudan.

The cardinal will preside over the pope’s scheduled Masses in Kinshasa on July 3 and in Juba on July 7.

In his video message, Pope Francis said: “There is one other thing that I would say to you: the tears that you shed on earth and the prayers that you raise to heaven are not in vain. The consolation of God will come, because he has ‘plans of peace and not of woe’ (Jeremiah 29:11). Even now, as I look forward to meeting you, I ask that God’s peace fill your hearts.”

“As I await the opportunity to see your faces, to feel at home in your lively Christian communities, to embrace all of you with my presence and to bless your lands, my prayers and my affection for you and your peoples, become all the more intense. I send you my heartfelt blessing and I ask all of you, please, to continue to pray for me.”

PHOTOS: Scenes from the feast of saints Peter and Paul in Rome

An image of St. Peter in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on June 29, 2022. / Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, whose official name is the joint Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, is the commemoration of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Simon Peter and Paul of Tarsus, celebrated on June 29.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recalled in 2012, "Christian tradition has always considered St. Peter and St. Paul as inseparable: together, in fact, they represent the whole Gospel of Christ... Although humanly very different from one another, and despite the fact that there was no lack of conflict in their relationship, they constituted a new way of being brothers, lived according to the Gospel, an authentic way made possible by the grace of the Gospel of Christ at work in them. Only the following of Jesus leads to the new fraternity."

The feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, whose official name is the joint Solemnity of Saints Peter and  Paul, is the commemoration of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Simon Peter and Paul of Tarsus, celebrated on June 29. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
The feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, whose official name is the joint Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, is the commemoration of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Simon Peter and Paul of Tarsus, celebrated on June 29. Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Pope Francis participated in the Mass for the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, patron saints of Rome, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. He presided over the opening rites of the Mass and gave the homily on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Pope Francis participated in the Mass for the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, patron saints of Rome, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. He presided over the opening rites of the Mass and gave the homily on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
The ceremony on June 29, 2022, was attended by members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Pope Francis also blessed the pallia for the metropolitan archbishops appointed in the last year. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
The ceremony on June 29, 2022, was attended by members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Pope Francis also blessed the pallia for the metropolitan archbishops appointed in the last year. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
During the homily on June 29, 2022, the Pope encourage the faithful to set out beyond our inner resistance and made an invitation to stand up as a synodal Church. Pope Francis used the witness of Peter and Paul to reiterate his idea of an outgoing, moving, missionary Church. Not to fall, the Pope says, "into formalism and habit." Remembering that the proclamation of the Gospel is not neutral and does not bend to the logic of the world. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
During the homily on June 29, 2022, the Pope encourage the faithful to set out beyond our inner resistance and made an invitation to stand up as a synodal Church. Pope Francis used the witness of Peter and Paul to reiterate his idea of an outgoing, moving, missionary Church. Not to fall, the Pope says, "into formalism and habit." Remembering that the proclamation of the Gospel is not neutral and does not bend to the logic of the world. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
As is the tradition every year on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis blessed the pallia of the metropolitan archbishops he appointed during the past year. At the end of the Mass, he gave each archbishop present his pallium in a small box tied with a brown ribbon on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
As is the tradition every year on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis blessed the pallia of the metropolitan archbishops he appointed during the past year. At the end of the Mass, he gave each archbishop present his pallium in a small box tied with a brown ribbon on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA

What are the origins of the Feast of the Saints Peter and Paul?

Elon Musk posts photo with Pope Francis at the Vatican

Elon Musk posted a photo with Pope Francis on Twitter. / null

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2022 / 01:55 am (CNA).

Elon Musk has said that he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican this week.

The world’s richest man posted a photo with the pope on Twitter on July 2. Four of Musk’s eight children were also pictured standing beside Pope Francis.

“Honored to meet @Pontifex yesterday,” Musk wrote in the social media post published at 3:54 a.m. Rome time.

With a net worth of more than $200 billion dollars, Musk became the richest man in the world in 2021. The head of Tesla and SpaceX is seeking to buy Twitter for approximately $44 billion.

The Vatican has yet to publicly acknowledge that the meeting took place. The private meeting was not listed in the pope’s schedule, which usually includes private audiences, and the Holy See Press Office has not responded to a request for comment on the meeting.

Pope Francis: 'I believe it is time to rethink the concept of a just war'

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, June 25, 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2022 / 10:26 am (CNA).

In an interview published Friday, Pope Francis said that he believes it is time to rethink the concept of “just war.”

“I believe it is time to rethink the concept of a ‘just war.’ A war may be just, there is the right to defend oneself. But we need to rethink the way that the concept is used nowadays,” Pope Francis said.

“I have said that the use and possession of nuclear weapons are immoral. Resolving conflicts through war is saying no to verbal reasoning, to being constructive. … War is essentially a lack of dialogue.”

The pope spoke in an interview that was conducted on June 20 by Télam, Argentina’s national news agency. A 1-hour video of the interview was published on July 1. 

In response to a question about how the lack of dialogue is an aggravating factor in the current state of world affairs, the pope said that there is “an entire infrastructure of arms sales” that supports war today.

“A person who knew about statistics told me, I don't remember the numbers well, that if weapons were not manufactured for a year, there would be no hunger in the world,” he said.

Pope Francis described how he cried during visits to war cemeteries in Europe, including the Redipuglia World War I memorial and Anzio World War II cemetery in Italy.

“And when the anniversary of the landing in Normandy was commemorated, I thought of the 30,000 boys who were left dead on the beach. They opened the boats and said, ‘get off, get off,’ they were ordered while the Nazis waited for them. Is that justified? Visiting military cemeteries in Europe helps one realize this,” he said.

The pope also said that the situation in Europe today shows that the United Nations “has no power” to stop a war.

“After World War II, trust was placed in the United Nations. It is not my intention to offend anybody, I know there are very good people working there, but at this point, the UN has no power to assert,” he said.

“It does help to avoid wars — and I am thinking of Cyprus, where there are Argentine troops. But to stop a war, to solve a conflict situation like the one we are living today in Europe, or like the ones lived in other parts of the world, it has no power.”

Church teaching on the morality of war is based on a theory expounded by St. Augustine in the 4th century known as just war theory and recognizes a potentially just reason to engage in war under certain conditions.

Theologians told CNA in 2019 that applying this theory to modern warfare, which often involves missile and air strikes rather than pitched battles between troops, is more complicated, yet normative.

The papal interview touched on a number of themes, including the Covid-19 pandemic, intergenerational dialogue, and climate change.

“You can rest assured that God always forgives, and we, men, forgive every now and then. But nature never forgives. It pays us back. If we use nature for our profit, it will bear down on us. A warmed-up world prevents the construction of a fraternal and just society,” the pope said.

When asked about the Catholic Church in Latin America, the pope said that it has a long history of being “close to the people.”

Pope Francis said: “In a way, this is the experience of the Latin American Church, although there have been attempts of ideologization, such as the use of Marxist concepts in the analysis of reality by Liberation Theology. That was an ideological exploitation …”

“There is a difference between the people and populisms,” he added.