Gender, family, upcoming trips, appointments of cardinals and ecumenism. These were the topics discussed during the press conference held by Pope Francis on his return trip from Azerbaijan. The Pope reiterated his strong condemnation of gender ideology, as he had already expressed in Georgia, but also willingness to welcome homosexuals. With a prayer: “Please do not say now: the Pope will sanctify trans people! I already see the headlines…”
Francis invited us once again to distinguish between what is a sin, and continues to remain so, and the need not to judge people, but to know to do stay next to those who live in conditions of great hardship: “In my priestly life, as a bishop and as a Pope, I have accompanied also people with homosexual tendencies or even practices. People must accompany other people as Jesus accompanied them. When a person comes to Jesus, He certainly did not say, “Get out, you are gay!” What I talked about in Georgia is the evil that done today with the indoctrination of the gender theory. A French dad told me that he talked with his children at the dinner table, and asked his ten-year-old boy: “What do you want to become when you grow up?” “A girl!” And his Dad has noticed that his schoolbooks taught gender theory, and this is against natural things. It is not like a person who has this tendency or option, or even a person who changes his/her sex. It means making teaching in schools along this line, changing children’s mentality. This is what I call ideological colonization”. The Pope also told the story of the Spanish girl who has undergone gender reassignment whom he received in the Vatican togerther with his partner: “He had surgery and is now an employee of the ministry in Spain. He went to the bishop who accompanied him a lot.” This woman became a man and “she told me – the pontiff said – that in the neighborhood where she lived there was an old priest, the old parish priest, and there was a new one. When the new priest saw him, he shouted at him from the sidewalk: “You will go to hell!” Whereas the old man told him, “When did you confess? Come, come…” Life is life, and you have to accept things the way they come. Sin is sin. Trends or hormonal imbalances give many problems and we have to be careful in saying that everything is the same: in any case, we have to welcome him, accompany him, study him, discern and integrate him.”
The world war against marriage
Francis reiterated that everything “is in Amoris Laetitia“, when “we talk about marriage as a union of man and woman, as an image of God… – men and women, not just men – who become one flesh when they join in marriage. This is the truth. It is true that in this culture conflicts, many problems not well managed and so many philosophies lead to this global war on marriage: we must be careful not to get dragged into such ideas. Amoris Laetitia talks about how to deal with these cases, families wounds and got to do mercy. In marriage there are problems, and how do you solve them? With four criteria: welcome wounded families, accompany them, discern every single case and integrate them.” Then, the Pope has once again invited to read the apostolic exhortation “well”: “Everyone should go to the eighth chapter, and read it all, from the beginning till the end. The center is the fourth chapter, you need it for all your life. But you have to read and reread the whole of it and discuss it all; things are connected. There is sin, rupture, but also care, mercy, and redemption.
The Pope recalled that in conjunction with the Extraordinary Jubilee ad limina visits have been suspended, that is, the visits that bishops from around the world are required to pay every five years to the Holy See. But some international journeys are planned, however: “I will go to Portugal – announced Francis – and I will go only to Fatima.” On May 13 it will be the centenary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children. “Almost certainly, I will also go to India and Bangladesh – he continued -. As to Africa, I am not sure, it depends on “wars and political situations. ” The Pope had previously expressed the possibility to travel to Colombia as long as the situation was stable and at peace, but unfortunately the surprising outcome of Sunday’s referendum that rejected the agreement between the government in Bogota and the FARC, although, due to a ‘high abstention (almost 60%) level and a very narrow margin of votes, make it virtually impossible for the Pope to visit the country next year. No close dates in China either: “It takes time. The slow things are going well, those made in a hurry do not go well. The Chinese people have my respect – said Francis – I would love to go there, but I still think it is not possible” The Pope also announced that he will choose these days the date of his visit to the quake-hit areas (it is likely to be the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, one week after the end of the Jubilee).
The next cardinals
As to the time of the consistory for the creation of new cardinals, the Pope said that “it will probably be at the end of the year, but there is the question of the Holy Year, or at the beginning of the next year.” As for the candidates, Francis said that “the list is long but there are only 13 seats. I am still studying the names.” What is certain is that it will adopt “the same criteria as the previous two consistories: I like it when in the College of Cardinals one can see the universality of the Church.”
The results of the trip
Francis returned to speak of ecumenism in reference to his visit to Georgia, where, he said, he had “two surprises. One is Georgia. I never imagined so much culture, so much faith, so much Christianity. A faithful people, and an ancient Christian culture, a people with so many martyrs. The second surprise was the patriarch who is a man of God, this man has touched me. ” Then, leaving the doctrinal questions to theologians, he added: “What should we people do? Pray for each other. And do things together: there are the poor, we work for the poor; there is a problem, we work together; There are migrants, we work together for the others. We can do this. Today ecumenism is to be done by walking together and praying together. But Georgia is wonderful.” As to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Pope said that “the only way is sincere dialogue.” Otherwise, “we must have the courage to go to an international tribunal in The Hague, for example, and submit to international judgment. The other way is war, but you lose everything in war.