Andrea Tornielli’s new book will be on release today, Vatican correspondent of the Press and site coordinator specializing Vatican Insider, “Traveling” (Piemme, p. 348, 18 €) in which he describes the international apostolic visits of Pope Francis. In Terris interviewed him.
Why a book about Pope’s trip?
“I started following those of St. John Paul II and it seems good to be able to tell this particular aspect of Francis’s pontificate, the way he faces, which are basically a way of describing how he lives his mission and represent some of the most beautiful and meaningful moments. It’s a kind of travelogue “.
What is the one that impressed you most, which remained in your heart?
“If I have to name one only the most moving moment is that of the Mass celebrated in January 2015 in Tacloban, Philippines. The Pope had wanted to go for strength to meet relatives of the victims of the typhoon of 2013 but that day another storm was coming: I remember the celebration with the yellow raincoat, the homily in the pouring rain, with the Pope that he threw away the written text and spoke off the cuff of suffering, the consolation. It was one of the greatest emotions. Then the program was shortened and we had to leave at the last minute. The Holy Father had to stay all afternoon but we imposed to spread to 13 or we would have been stuck. In fact, a plane with members of the government after we ended up off the track for extreme weather conditions. But the Pope was holding us to go to comfort those people. But there are at least two others that I have been impressed. ”
“The first is the opening of the Holy Door in Bangui, another one things that strike you. It has never happened that a Jubilee was opened in advance and for more in one of the most forgotten and the world’s poorest countries, a stage that you did not want the Pope to do for safety reasons. The other is to 4-5 hours on Lesbos in April, a strong mark on the issue of migrants. The rest of the story of Francesco travel was started in the same way, with the unexpected visit to Lampedusa. To Lesbos it was also important because it was the first truly ecumenical journey of a Pope, at the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and did everything with him and the Orthodox archbishop of Athens Hieronymos. He did not have a time or as a head of state or as head of the Catholic Church. It ‘was a sign of the apron ecumenism, the busy … the rest in the refugee camp worked side by side the Catholic Caritas and the Orthodox. ”
About ecumenism, there have been criticisms of the trip to Sweden. The Pope himself has said it would be a mistake not to meet the Catholic community.
“There was no mistake but it has bee criticized anyway. Francis had originally planned a single day, because, as he said in the interview that opens the book, does not like to travel. The purpose of that visit was the ecumenical meeting and then added the Mass for the Catholics. But he has been criticized for the gesture with the Lutherans, which also has been made in the wake of his predecessors. ”
What is the difference between Francis, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI’ trip?
“I followed St. John Paul II in the last part of his pontificate, when he was already ill, so with less strenuous programs. Francis, like Benedict, by character would be less inclined to move as St. John Paul II had made travel an integral part of its mission. Benedict did not allow much to unscheduled and had a fondness for the depth of the word. Francis instead loves to talk with gestures. This is more like John Paul, but perhaps the current Pontiff is more concrete, does things that are at the moment. ”
“When in Kenya, in a capacity crowd, having to speak against tribalism, invited everyone to stand up and to join hands, beyond all belonging to clans and tribes. That was a very concrete gesture. And then there is another feature for Francesco travel “. That is to say?
“The choice of destinations, excluding some forced, I think the GMG in Rio or Family Day in Philadelphia, has a predilection for countries and places where it can encourage positive processes in place to resolve civil wars, religious conflicts, to encourage attempts to respond to social problems. Here, then, that in Latin America chooses Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, but destinations such as Tirana, Sarajevo in Europe non EU countries, Armenia and Georgia. Albania, for example, was an outgoing nation from communism, multi-religious; idem Bosnia. For the Holy Father is a priority to give these signs of encouragement. ”
Homilies, interviews, phone calls … is there a risk of media overexposure of the Pope?
“Of course, there is the risk … In another interview I asked him how he reacted to all these hosannas and he replied quoting an episode of which the protagonist was the Patriarch Luciani. The future John Paul I told a group of altar boys who applauded him that the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem could not think that the hosannas were addressed to him, were for those who stood on his back. Luciani compared himself donkey and Francesco does the same. And there is another risk, that the polarization around the figure of the Pope. A process that started a long time. With the cameras, the real-time information amplified by the company, you tend to do the equation equals Church Pope. But it is not so. There is much more in the Church, a reality that is worth telling. But there is a positive side of the coin. In today’s world stage, in front of the lack of any leadership, over the last fifty years we had Pontiffs who had an enormous influence, went far beyond the Catholic and Christian circles, because everyone saw in Popes credible people and bearers of a universal message and decisive “.