Press conferences with the Pope Francisco at 37,000 feet they are always an unknown. Some days, tired from the trip, he avoids the key questions about the Vatican and asks to be interrogated about anecdotes of the journey. Others, like Sunday, do not mind to enter the cloth with ease in the most thorny matters. After four days in Panama in the World Youth Day (JMJ) and at the doors of a historic meeting in the Vatican to address the issue of abuse with the presidents of all episcopal conferences, Francis agreed to make the wound for which the Church bleeds the central theme of his intervention. In addition, he categorically ruled out that he would allow optional celibacy for priests.
The Vatican will gather all the presidents of the episcopal conferences between February 21 and 24 to debate and find solutions to the plague of child abuse. For the first time, the Pope has directly explained the origin of the historic meeting and the objective pursued. "The idea was born in the C9 [el consejo de cardenales que le asesora para las reformas]. We saw that some bishops did not know what to do, they did not understand … They did one good thing and another bad thing. Then we felt the need to give a catechesis on this problem to the episcopal conferences. […] First you must be aware of this, "he said.
But the victims and the experts demand concrete measures to lay a foundation for the change of direction announced by the Church for years, without too many tangible effects. Music that emanates from "zero tolerance" sounds good, but new laws and rules are needed, all associations are created. The problem, the Pope believes, is that still many bishops have no idea how to deal with the issue. "They should know what they should do, the procedure. Because sometimes the bishop does not know what to do. It is necessary that programs be made, general, but that they reach all the episcopal conferences: what the bishop, the archbishop, the president of the conference have to do … Protocols that are clear: this is the main thing ".
The meeting, as already advanced by the organizers and confirmed by Francisco during the flight, will be held behind closed doors, will be moderated by Father Federico Lombardi[SpokesmanofthePopeatthetimeof[portavozdelPapaenlaépocadeBenedict XVI]and will count on victims who will relate their experiences so that the numerous bishops who are still impervious to this suffering know it directly. "The first thing is to be aware. It will be prayed, testimonies will be heard, there will be liturgies of penance and asking for forgiveness for the whole Church, "he said before adding some water to the wine. A before and after in the treatment of abuse? "Let me say that I have sensed a bit of an inflated expectation. It is necessary to deflate the expectations to these points of which I speak. Because the problem of abuse will continue: it is a human problem that occurs everywhere, "he said, referring to the shared guilt to which the Church often refers in this matter.
One of the great debates surrounding the abuse of clergy by minors usually invokes the convenience of eliminating celibacy. But Francisco has been very blunt when questioned about whether he would allow married men to be priests at some point. The question was circumscribed to the possibility of an opening similar to that of the Anglican Church, which facilitates the decision to young people who have a vocation and doubt because of the difficulty of the path. But the answer also allows to definitively discard the option of eliminating celibacy as a solution to the plague of abuse. "A phrase of San Paolo VI comes to mind. 'I'd rather give my life than change the law of celibacy.' It's a brave phrase, at a more difficult time than this. Personally, I believe that celibacy is a gift to the church. Also, I do not agree that optional celibacy is allowed, no. […] It's something personal, I will not do it. But I do not feel able to put myself before God with this decision. "
Married priests as in the Eastern rite of the Church? Francisco believes that it would only be possible to contemplate this possibility in places where, because of its isolation, it is not viable to find vocations or priests that allow the Eucharist and other basic functions. "The problem must be opened in that sense, where there are pastoral problems due to the lack of priests. There you should think about the faithful. I do not say that it should be done because I have not thought enough, but the theologians have to study it. These are the points where it can be done. " That is a figure known as viri probati and to which the Pope had already opened the door to his study on other occasions.
Pope Francis' position on the issue of abortion is just as hard as that of his predecessors. However, the Pontiff opened some time ago the door to the absolution of women who have made that decision and repent. On Sunday, he returned to that idea and remembered what, according to him, is the true drama of this question. "The message of mercy is for everyone, also for the human person in gestation. After having made this mistake, there is mercy too. A difficult mercy, because the problem is not in giving forgiveness, the problem is in accompanying a woman who has become aware of having aborted. They are terrible dramas. It is necessary to be in the confessional, and there to give consolation, not to attack, for that reason to open the power to absolve the abortion for mercy ".
Francisco says that through the confessional, the true drama of a woman repented for having made a decision of this type is perceived. "When they cry and have this anguish, I tell them that their son is in heaven, that they talk to him, that they sing the lullaby that they could not sing to him. And there is a reconciliation of the mother with the son, because God has already forgiven. To understand the drama of an abortion, it is necessary to be in a confessional. "