“The first word that comes to mind is that it seems like yesterday...”. We are at Santa Marta in the late afternoon. It is not an interview but rather thoughts that follow the thread of an intense pontificate. Pope Francis waits standing at the door, holding on to his cane. He smiles at the microphone with the Vatican Media logo and asks: “A podcast? What is it”? “Nice, let’s do it”, is the reaction after the explanation. Then there is the question: What does he feel like sharing with the world on the occasion of this milestone for his life and ministry?
“Time flies… it’s in a hurry. When you want to grasp today, it is already yesterday. To live like this is something new. These ten years have been like this: living in tension”. Of the thousands of audiences, hundreds of visits to dioceses and parishes and the 40 apostolic journeys, the Pope has a clear memory. He identifies “the most beautiful moment” as the meeting with the elderly in Saint Peter’s Square, the audience with grandparents from all over the world on 28 September 2014. “Old people are wisdom and they help me so much. I too am old, am I not”?
However, there have also been several bad moments and they are all related to the horror of war. First the visits to the war cemeteries in Redipuglia and Anzio, the commemoration of the landing of the allies in Normandy, the vigil to end the war in Syria, and now, the barbarity that has been going on for over a year in Ukraine.
“Behind the wars, there is the arms industry, this is diabolical”, Pope Francis says. He says that he, a bishop that “came from the end of the earth”, did not expect to become the Pope who would lead the Universal Church in the time of World War iii: “I wasn’t expecting it. I thought Syria was going to be unique, then came the others”.
“It makes me suffer to see young men dying — be they Russian or Ukrainian, I don’t care — not coming back. It is hard”.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio has no doubts about what to ask of the world as a gift for this important anniversary: “Peace, we need peace”. Hence, three words for the Pope’s “three dreams” for the Church, for the world, for those who govern the world and for humanity: “Fraternity, weeping, smiling”.
The “Popecast” in Italian is available on the Vatican News website and Spotify.
By Salvatore Cernuzio