“We are in love with wars. My health is capricious, I don’t know how it will end”

We publish the full text of the press conference that Pope Francis held on the return flight from Malta, answering questions from some journalists present on the flight.

Andrea Rossitto (Maltese TV): “Your Holiness, thank you first of all for your presence in Malta. My question relates to the surprise this morning, in the chapel where Saint George Preca is buried: what motivated you to surprise the Maltese and what will you remember from this visit to Malta? By the way, how’s your health? We have seen it in this very intense journey. It went well, shall we say? Thank you a lot”.

“My health is a bit temperamental as I have this knee problem which causes walking problems, it’s a bit annoying but it’s getting better, at least I can go. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t do anything. It’s a slow thing; let’s see if he leaves, but there is a doubt: at this age we don’t know how the game will end, let’s hope it goes well. And then to Malta. I was happy with the visit, I saw the realities of Malta, the enthusiasm of the impressive people, both in Gozo and in Malta, Valletta and elsewhere. A great enthusiasm on the roads, I was amazed. It was a bit short. The problem I saw for you – one of the problems – is migration. The problem of migrants is serious because Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, Spain, are the closest countries to Africa and the Middle East and they land here, they arrive here. Migrants should always be welcome! The problem is that each government has to say how many they can normally receive for them to live there. For that, we need an agreement with the countries of Europe, which are not all ready to welcome migrants. We forget that Europe was made of migrants, don’t we? But that’s how it is… At least don’t leave all the burden on those neighboring countries who are so generous, and Malta is one of them. Today I was in the reception center for migrants and the things I heard there are terrible: the suffering of these migrants to get here and then the camps – they are camps – which are on the Libyan coast, when they are returned. It looks criminal. And for that, I believe it is a problem that touches everyone’s heart. Just as Europe gives so generously to the Ukrainians who knock on the door, so does the others who come from the Mediterranean. This is a point with which I ended the visit and it touched me a lot, because I felt the testimonies, the sufferings, which more or less resemble those which – I think I told you about it – are found in this little book that came out, Hermanito, in Spanish, “little brother”, and all the via crucis of these people. Whoever spoke today had to pay four times. I ask you to think about this. Thank you”.

Jordi Antelo Barcia (Radio National de España): “Good evening, Your Holiness. I read because my Italian is still not very good. On the flight that took us to Malta, you told a colleague that a trip to kyiv “is on the table”, and in Malta you made many reminders of your closeness to the Ukrainian people. On Friday in Rome, the Polish president left the door open for a trip to the Polish border. Today we were struck by the images that arrived from Bucha, a town near kyiv, abandoned by the Russian army, where Ukrainians found dozens of corpses thrown into the streets, some with their hands tied, as if they had been “executed”. It seems that today its presence in this field is more and more necessary. Do you think a trip like this is doable? And what conditions must be put in place for you to go there?.

“Thank you for breaking this news to me today that I didn’t know about. War is always cruelty, an inhuman thing and goes against the human spirit, I’m not saying Christian, human That’s the spirit of Cain I’m ready to do anything that can be done and the Holy See especially the diplomatic side Cardinal Parolin Monsignor Gallagher are doing everything everything you can’t publish everything they do, out of prudence, out of confidentiality, but we are at the limit of the work. Among the possibilities, there are trips. There are two possible trips: one, the president of Poland, to send Cardinal Krajewski to visit the Ukrainians who have been received in Poland. He has already been there twice, taking two ambulances, and has stayed there with them, but he will do it again, he is ready to do so. The other trip someone asked me, more than one: I honestly said I had in mind to go, I said there is always di availability, there is no a priori “no”, I am available. What do you think of a trip … The question was like this: “We heard that you were thinking of a trip to Ukraine”, and I said: “It’s on the table”, the project is there, like one of the proposals that came in, but I don’t know if it’s doable, if it’s okay to do it, if it would be for the best , if it is convenient to do it and I have to do it, all of this is pending. Then, for some time, a meeting with the patriarch Cyrille was envisaged: it is being worked on, we are working and we think of doing it in the Middle East. These are things as they are now.”

“Journalists who died in war fell for the common good”

Gerry O’Connell (America Magazine): “Father, you spoke about the war several times during this trip. The question everyone asks is whether you have spoken to President Putin since the start of the war, and if not, what would you say to him today? “.

“The things I said to the authorities of each party are public. None of the things I said are reserved for me. When I spoke to the Patriarch, he then made a beautiful statement of what we said to each other. I heard the President of Russia at the end of the year when he called me to congratulate me, we talked. Then the President of Ukraine also heard it, twice. And I thought, on the first day of the war, that I should go to the Russian embassy to speak with the ambassador, who is the representative of the people, to ask questions and give my impressions of the case. These are the official contacts that I had. With Russia, I did it through the embassy. Moreover, I heard the major archbishop of kyiv, Monsignor Shevchuk. Then every two or three days, with regularity, I heard from one of you, Elisabetta Pique, who is now in Odessa, but I heard her when she was in Leopothe. I hear her and she tells me how you are. I also spoke with the rector of the seminary there, with a message to the seminarians and the people there. I am also in contact with your representative. And speaking of that, I would like to offer my condolences to your colleagues who have passed away. It doesn’t matter who they are, it doesn’t matter. But your work is for the common good and they fell in the service of the common good, of information. Let’s not forget them. They were brave and I pray for them, that the Lord rewards their work. These are the contacts we have had so far.”

Gerry O’Connell: “But what would be your message to President Putin if you had the opportunity to talk to him?”

“The message I gave to all the Authorities is what I do publicly. I don’t do double talk. It’s always the same thing. I believe that under your question there is also a doubt about just wars or unjust wars. Any war is born of an injustice, always. Because it’s the war plan, it’s not the peace plan. For example, making investments to buy weapons. They tell me: but we need it to defend ourselves. And that’s the war plan. When World War II ended, everyone took a breath and said, “Never again war: peace!” and a wave of work for peace began, even with the good will not to manufacture weapons, all of them, even atomic weapons, at that time. time, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a great good will. Seventy years later, eighty years later, we have forgotten all that. That’s it: the war regime is imposed. High hopes for the work of the United Nations at this time. But the pattern of war has imposed itself once again. We cannot be unable to think of another schema, because we are no longer accustomed to thinking with the schema of peace. There were great ones: Ghandi and many others, which I mention at the end of All brothers, who bet on the peace project. But we are stubborn! We are stubborn like humanity. We are in love with wars, with the spirit of Cain. It is no coincidence that at the beginning of the Bible there is this problem: the “cainist” spirit of killing, instead of the spirit of peace. “Father, you can’t!…”. I tell you something personal: when I went to Redipuglia in 2014 and saw the names, I cried. Really, I wept, bitterly. A year or two later, for All Souls’ Day, I went to Anzio to celebrate, and there too I saw the boys who fell in the Anzio landing: there were names, all young. And there too I cried. For real. I did not understand. We must mourn at the graves. I respect it, because there is a political problem, but when there was the commemoration of the Normandy landings, the heads of government came together to commemorate it; but I don’t remember anyone mentioning the thirty thousand young soldiers left on the beaches. The boats opened up, went out and were machine-gunned there, on the beaches. Doesn’t youth matter? It makes me think and hurts me. I am saddened by what is happening today. We don’t learn. May the Lord have mercy on us, on all of us. We are all guilty! “.

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