On Good Friday, 15 April, Pope Francis granted an interview to Italian journalist Lorena Bianchetti during a special edition of the “A Sua Immagine” (In His Image) programme. In the interview, the Holy Father talked about how, despite the horrific war in Ukraine and other tragedies around the globe, this Easter we must keep our hope, even if it seems unfulfilled in the short-term.
In the conversation, the Holy Father touched on various topics: the war, the pandemic, but also keeping the faith amid tragedy and the fortitude of women. He also stressed how the world has chosen the path of Cain. “At this moment in Europe, this war is really affecting us. But let’s look a little further”, he said. “The world is at war, the world is at war! Syria, Yemen, then think of the Rohingya people driven out, without a homeland. War is everywhere. The genocide in Rwanda 25 years ago”.
“Because the world has chosen — it’s hard to say this — but the world has chosen the path of Cain and war is enacting what Cain did, that is, killing one’s brother”.
The Pope has frequently referred to the biblical figure of Cain, who killed his brother Abel. He also paid particular attention to the millions of people fleeing their country, especially mothers and children. In his remarks he warned against categorizing refugees and migrants into classes. The Pope reminded that our Lord Jesus was a migrant and refugee in Egypt.
During the interview, Pope Francis stressed that the devil is “evil” and tries to seduce us into sinning. The devil is not a myth but a reality, he said, emphasizing that we should not dialogue with the devil.
“Every day, I pray that prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel in the morning. Every day! So that it might help me conquer the devil”, he told Lorena Bianchetti.
“Someone who hears me might say: ‘But, Your Holiness, you have studied, you are the Pope and you still believe in the devil?’ Yes, I believe in him, I believe in him. I am afraid of him, this is why I have to defend myself so much”. “The devil was the one who did all that manoeuvring so that Jesus would end up like he did, on the cross”.
In this special episode, the Pope also reflected on the strength of women, recalling that at the foot of the cross, the disciples fled, but the women did not. A mother, he acknowledged, “is capable of accompanying their children even to the end”. Women, he said, know what it means to “prepare for life” and “to prepare for death”. The Holy Father also spoke about exploitation and domestic violence, which, he said, many women endure in silence.
Reflecting on the fact that the interview was given on “Good Friday, in front of Jesus Crucified”, the Holy Father said, “Let him touch your heart, let him speak to you with his silence, and with his pain”.
“He speaks to you through those people who are suffering in the world: who suffer from hunger, suffer from war, suffer from such exploitation, and all these things”.
“Let Jesus speak to you and, please, don’t speak. Remain silent. Let him be the one, and ask for the grace of tears”.
Reflecting on the virtue of hope later in the interview, the Pope said that “hope never disappoints, but it makes you wait”.
“Hope is the housekeeper of the Catholic life, of the Christian life. It is truly the humblest of virtues”, he said.
At the conclusion of the conversation, the presenter, Lorena Bianchetti, noted that it was almost three o’clock in the afternoon, and asked how we should live this hour.
The Pope did not respond but sat in silence....