(Vatican Radio) Despite the grueling schedule of his three day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, on Monday evening Pope Francis held an hour long in-flight question and answer session with the journalists who had accompanied him. The Pope responded to their questions on issues that ranged from the Churches’ efforts in combatting the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, to the reform of the Curia. The Pope addressed questions that have arisen ahead of October’s Synod on the family, regarding the situation of divorced and remarried Catholics, he spoke of future papal travels and dwelt the modern day reality of Christian martyrs for the faith.
Emer McCarthy reports:
Responding to a question on the Churches handling of the abuse crisis, Pope Francis stated that there will be no preferential treatment when it comes to child abuse. That three bishops are currently under investigation for and one has been convicted with punishment pending. Such abuse is a betrayal of the Lord’s body, he said. He then announced that next week he will hold a two day meeting with survivors of abuse and celebrate mass with them at his residence in Casa Santa Marta.
Responding to a question on the issue of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, which has arisen ahead of next October’s Synod on the Family, Pope Francis lamented that the entire Synod should be boiled down to this one issue. He noted the real issue is the crisis that the family is undergoing today with a drop in the number of young people choosing to marry. However, the Pope did add that the procedure of preparation for marriage and annulments of marriage needed further reflection. He also concluded that divorced Catholics must not be treated as if they had been excommunicated.
He also answered a question on priestly celibacy, noting that the Catholic Church has married priests in the Eastern rites, that celibacy is not a dogma of faith but a rule of life that he appreciate a great deal and believes is a gift for the Church.
Regarding the reform of the Curia, Pope Francis laughingly confessed that he himself is perhaps the greatest obstacle to it. The Pope revealed that the organization will be made lighter, by merging dicasteries.
He also revealed that there are two Asian trips planned: one to South Korea and then next January, a trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
Finally, answering a question as to whether he too – like Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI – will choose to resign from the papacy, Pope Francis stated that his predecessor had “opened the door” to such a possibility, but that he will do what the Lord tells him to do.