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We have to apologize not only to gays, but also to the poor, raped women, children forced to work and for blessing so many weapons. That is what Pope Francis said during the press conference on his back flight from Armenia to Italy. It was his 14th apostolic journey, adding that Christians “need to ask forgiveness for having accompanied so many bad choices.”

“I said it on my first journey and I repeat it, actually I repeat the Catechism of the Catholic Church – Francis said – gays should not be discriminated against, they must be respected and receive pastoral guidance. You can condemn actions that offend the others. The point is that when it comes to a person in this condition, who has good will and seeks God, who are we to judge him or her?” Bergoglio pointed out that we all have the duty to “properly accompany” everyone, explaining that this is what the catechism says. Then, he added that in some countries they have different traditions and another mentality, and people who have a different opinion on this matter.

Speaking with the reporters, the Pontiff mentioned also Brexit, emphasizing that the division spirit does not characterize Europe alone, but also inside some of its single countries. In this regard, he brought up the examples of Scotland and Catalonia, where a referendum took place last year to see whether the people really wanted independence from Spain.

“I will not say these divisions are dangerous – the Pope said -, but we need to study them well and, before taking a step forward, discuss it thoroughly among ourselves, in search of viable solutions.” Francis said he had not studied “the reasons why the United Kingdom made this decision, but there are divisions for independence, made for emancipatory reasons, such as that of the States at the time they were a colony, and there are secessions”.

“Emancipation is easier to understand – he observed – because there is a certain culture and way of thinking behind it. The secession of a country, as in the case of Scotland, is something that can lead to a new balkanization, no offense meant. Secession is not emancipation. Stories, cultures, and misunderstandings hide behind it”. “As I see it – the Pope said -, unity is always above conflict, but there are different forms of unity. Brotherhood – I mean Brexit and the EU here -, is better than enmity and distance. Bridges are better than walls. It should give us food for thought.”

“The European Union needs to make a creative step of sound disunity in order to recover the strength of its roots. It needs to give more freedom to EU countries and think of a different form of union.” “Be creative – he said – with job places, economy, it is unthinkable that in countries such as Italy there are so many young people out of work. There is something wrong in this ‘massive’ Union. But let us not throw the baby out with the bath water.” “We need to re-create – he concluded -. Re-creation is something we need to do all the time: it gives life and will to live. It gives fecundity. In my humble opinion, there are two key words for the European Union: creativity and fecundity.”

Finally, Francis answered the reporters’ questions concerning Monsignor George Gaenswin’s statements on the Petrine ministry, supposedly divided between two popes, one active and another contemplative. In this regard, after explaining he had not read these statements due to lack of time, Francis reiterated that “there is only one Pope. The other, Benedict XVI, is a pope emeritus, a figure that did not exist before. He paved the way for it with courage, prayer, science, and theology – the Pope added -, I will never forget the speech he delivered before the cardinals on February 28, three years ago: ‘certainly, there is my successor among you. I promise obedience to him’. And he did so.” Then, before concluding the interview, Pope Francis recalled that on June 28 will be celebrated the 65th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Benedict XVI. “There will be a small act, with the heads of decasteries, a few people, because he prefers to keep it simple. He accepted, but very modestly – Francis said -. I will be there and I will say something to this great man of prayer, courage, who is the Pope Emeritus, not the second Pope, true to his word, a man of God, very intelligent, and for me he is the wise grandfather at home”.

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