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Ecumenism, Emigration, Europe: Themes of Pope’s Press Conference (Zenit Was on Papal Flight)

June 03, 2019. On the Plane during the Return Trip from Romania

FROM ZENIT ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT.- On June 2, during his return from his Apostolic Journey to Romania, Pope Francis answered questions of the press on ecumenism, emigration, Europe, relations with Benedict XVI . . .

ZENIT journalist of the French Edition, Anne Kurian, was aboard the Papal Flight.

On the plane bringing him from Sibiu to Rome, after a three-day visit to the country, the Holy Father gave a press conference, as usual, and recalled the impressive emigration of Romanians, seeing the cause in the “global financial order.” After the fall of Communism, “many businesses closed and went abroad to earn more . . . this is also a global and general injustice, a lack of solidarity,” he said, making an appeal to “the global society” to promote “sources of work.”

Ecumenism of the Poor

Reflecting on the dialogue with the Orthodox, who are in the majority in Romania, the Pope highlighted the figure of Patriarch Daniel, head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, whom he met on May 31: “A man of great heart, a great erudite who knows the mysticism of the Desert Fathers . . . a man of prayer.” “We spoke as brothers,” added the Pontiff.

And he encouraged ecumenism, pleading for relations with a hand outstretched when there are conflicts.” “Ecumenism is done by walking together; the “ecumenism of witness . . .  of prayer, of blood . . . then the ecumenism of the poor,” which consists in carrying out together works of charity. “We can walk together,” insisted the Pope: “unity, fraternity, outstretched hand . . . not badmouth others. We all have faults, all <of us>; if we walk together, let us leave the faults aside.”

The Holy Father also referred to the Our Father prayer, over which he presided in the new Orthodox Cathedral of Bucharest, next to Patriarch Daniel. Although the prayer was in two moments — the Pope recited it in Latin, then the Patriarch in Romanian — Francis felt that unity was present in the assembly. “During the Our Father, I saw people praying, be it in Romanian be it in Latin. The people went beyond . . . we, the heads, must engage in diplomatic balances to ensure that we go together. There are customs, diplomatic rules that it’s good to protect so that things don’t fall into ruin. But the people together; we do also, when we are alone we pray together.”

We Are All Responsible for Europe

“We are all responsible for the European Union,” stressed the Holy Father, while Romania held for another month the presidency of the EU. “If Europe doesn’t look thoroughly at the future challenges, Europe will suffer, it will be reduced. It’s about not letting it become “grandmother Europe,” but to take up the mystique of the Founding Fathers.”

“Europe needs to be itself, to have its own identity, its own unity. There is a globalization where the cultures of all are respected, but all united. Please, let Europe not be defeated by pessimism or by ideologies. At present, Europe isn’t attacked by cannons or bombs, but by ideologies; ideologies that aren’t European, that come from elsewhere, or are born in small groups,” he continued.

As a sign of his concern, the Pontiff asked believing journalists to “pray” for Europe to “become again the dream of the Founding Fathers.”

Sow Hope Not Fear

In regard to his relations with his Predecessor, Benedict XVI, the Holy Father confided: “Every time I go to see him, I take his hand, I make him speak. He speaks little, he speaks slowly but with the same profundity and lucidity as always. He has great lucidity. His knees are his problem not his head! Hearing him speak, I sense the roots that help me go forward, I sense this Tradition of the Church , which isn’t  a museum piece.”

“Politics must never sow hatred and fear — never. Only hope, with accuracy and exactness, “ said the Pope, in response to a question on the campaign of the Italian Vice-Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini. Pointing the finger to “the sickness of corruption, <which is> “universal,” he stressed: “We must help politics to be honest, not to engage in campaigns with dishonest banners, calumny, defamation, scandals.”

The Holy Father also encouraged journalists to be “witnesses” of communication: “Our time is in such need of fewer contacts and more communication.”