Pope Francis’ papacy in his own words
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Below are some memorable quotes from Pope Francis, who marks the 10th anniversary of his election as pontiff on March 13. The quotes are arranged according to subjects that have cropped up during his papacy, in chronological order within each theme.
“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes.” From his first papal encyclical, a letter to the church, which was dedicated to the environment and published on June 18, 2015.
“A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged,” comments to the United Nations in September 2015
“The ecological crisis and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity can threaten the very existence of the human species.” Also to the United Nations in September 2015.
“God gave us a bountiful garden, but we have turned it into a polluted wasteland of debris, desolation and filth … Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact,” Sept. 1, 2016, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
“War is madness,” the pope said on Sept. 13, 2014, referring to violence seen around the globe.
“Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion,” he said during a visit to Ur, Iraq in March 2021.
“Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more powerful than war,” he said during a visit to Mosul, Iraq in March 2021.
“In Ukraine, rivers of blood and tears are flowing. This is not just a military operation but a war which sows death, destruction and misery,” he said his weekly address on March 6, 2022, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24, 2022.
“Once more humanity is threatened by a perverse abuse of power and partisan interests which condemns defenceless people to suffer every form of brutal violence,” he said on March 18, 2022.
“It is also true that the Russians thought it would all be over in a week. But they miscalculated. They encountered a brave people, a people who are struggling to survive and who have a history of struggle,” he told a Jesuit journal in June 2022.
“Every day, I carry in my heart dear and martyred Ukraine, which continues to be flagellated by barbarous attacks,” he said in June 2022.
“Generally, the cruellest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryati and so on. Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state. This is very clear,” he told a Jesuit magazine in November 2022.
“(The war in Ukraine) is an enormous suffering, enormous. A defeat for humanity,” he said on Dec. 8, 2022.
“We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories,” he told the U.S. Congress in September 2015.
“It is violence to build walls and barriers to stop those who look for a place of peace,” he said in a letter to a Church association in Albania in September 2015.
“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” he told a meeting of German faithful at the Vatican in October 2016.
Economy and capitalism
“The grave financial and economic crises of the present time … have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy.” Dec. 12, 2013 in a message for World Peace Day.
“Unrestrained (economic) liberalism only makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker and excludes the most excluded,” he told La Repubblica newspaper in October 2013.
“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” from his Apostolic Exhortation in November 2013.
“It is increasingly intolerable that financial markets are shaping the destiny of people rather than serving their needs, or that the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences,” he told a seminar on ethical investing in the Vatican in June 2014.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” – July 29, 2013, speaking to journalists on plane returning from Brazil.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” he said in a documentary released in October 2020, calling for same-sex couples to be protected by civil union laws.
Asked what he considered the most important thing for LGBT people to know about God, the pope replied in a letter dated May 2022: “God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And ‘the style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy, and tenderness'”.
“I believe that it would be … (less conflictual) in the Curia if there were more women. Some people have said it would lead to more gossiping but I don’t think so,” he told Reuters in June 2018, referring to the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church.
However, he ruled out women becoming priests. “Pope John Paul II was clear and closed the door and I’m not going to go back on that,” he said.
“The struggle for women’s rights is a continuing struggle. We have to continue struggling for this because women are a gift. God did not create man and then give him a lapdog to play with. He created both equal, man and woman. .. A society that is not capable of (allowing women to have greater roles) does not move forward,” he told reporters in November 2022.
“I have noticed that every time a woman is given a position (of responsibility) in the Vatican, things improve,” he added.
“Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem? It’s a human life — that’s science. The moral question is whether it is right to take a human life to solve a problem. Indeed, is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem?” he told Reuters in July 2022.
“Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits, but no,” he said during a flight home from the Philippines on Jan. 19 2015, adding the Church promoted “responsible parenthood”.
Clergy sex abuse
“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests – quite a few in number, (although) obviously not compared to the number of all priests – to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” he said in unscripted comments originally in Spanish, to the International Catholic Child Bureau on April 11, 2014.
“Sexual abuse is such an ugly crime … because a priest who does this betrays the body of the Lord. It is like a satanic Mass,” Francis said on May 27, 2014, on a plane returning from a trip to the Middle East.
“Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.” A July 7, 2014 homily at the Vatican, addressing to six victims of abuse.
“We have to fight against every single case … As a priest, I have to help people grow and save them. If I abuse, I kill them. This is terrible. Zero tolerance,” he told Reuters in July 2022.
On clerics and the church
“Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor,” he said in March 2013.
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” he said in a November 2013 document, setting out his papacy.
“Men and women of the Church who are careerists, social climbers, who use the people, the Church, brothers and sisters – those they should serve – as a springboard for their own ambitions and personal interest do great damage to the Church.” he told a gathering of superiors general of orders of nuns from around the world on May 8, 2013.
“The hypocrisy of those consecrated men and women who profess vows of poverty, yet live like the rich, wounds the souls of the faithful and harms the church.” In South Korea, Aug. 16, 2014.
“The Curia needs to change, to improve … a Curia that does not criticize itself, that does not bring itself up to date, that does not try to improve, is a sick body,” he said in December 2014, denouncing those who “let themselves be corrupted by ambition and vainglory.”
“Reforming Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx of Egypt with a toothbrush,” he said in December 2017.
Francis branded Italy’s largest organised crime group, the ‘Ndrangheta, “the adoration of evil and the contempt of the common good” in impromptu comments at a mass in Sibari, southern Italy on June 21, 2014.
“Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated,” he said on the same occasion.
“… the Chinese deserve the Nobel Prize for patience, because they are good people, they know how to wait, time is theirs and they have centuries of culture. They are a wise people, very wise. I respect China very much,” he told Reuters an interview in June 2018.
“Diplomacy is the art of the possible and of doing things to make the possible become a reality,” he told Reuters in July, 2022, discussing the Vatican’s secret and contested 2018 agreement with China.
“I am always ready to go to China,” in Kazakhstan, September 2022.
“Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise,” he told a drug enforcement conference in Rome on June 20, 2014.
On a plane returning from South Korea on Aug. 18, 2014, Francis said he learned how to handle his global fame by thinking of his “sins and mistakes” and mortality.
He added: “This will last a short time, two or three years, and then we go to the house of the father,” before making a chopping gesture and a whistling sound.
“To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person.” – March 5, 2014 in interview with Italian newspaper.
“The ‘Big Bang’ that today is considered to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative intervention of God, on the contrary it requires it. Evolution in nature is not in contrast with the notion of (divine) creation because evolution requires the creation of the beings that evolve,” he told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in October 2014.
“When we read in Genesis the account of creation (we are) in danger of imagining that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things. But he is not.”
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Frances Kerry)