(Vatican Radio) In his first interview with an independent radio station with no connection to any religious organization, Pope Francis spoke about friendship, fundamentalism, and the defense of Creation, saying “You, an Evangelist, I, a Catholic, let us work together for Jesus”.
Listen to Devin Watkins' report:
Pope Francis granted the interview to his personal friend and journalist, Marcelo Figueroa, at the Argentinian radio station, FM Milenium 106.7 out of Buenos Aires. It aired on Sunday afternoon, September 13th.
The interview seems like a conversation between two friends – indeed, they have been for many years – so the theme of friendship takes a central place in the discussion.
Pope Francis emphasized the holiness of true friendship, saying “Friendship is something very sacred. The Bible says ‘keep one or two friends’. Before considering someone your friend, let time test him, to see how he reacts in your regard.”
At this point, Pope Francis introduces a more painful, personal note about false friends, saying that he has been used, or instrumentalized, by some who have claimed to be his ‘friends’. “But the utilitarian sense of friendship – to see what I can get out of being close to this person and making myself his friend – this pains me. I have felt used by some people who have presented themselves as ‘friends’ with whom I may not have seen more than once or twice in my lifetime, and they used this for their own gain. But this is an experience which we have all undergone: utilitarian friendship.”
The Holy Father also went on to point out the dangers of religious fundamentalism which distances one from God, saying that fundamentalism in any religion “is a transversal darkness which robs us of an horizon, which closes us in convictions”.
“No religion is immune from its own fundamentalisms. In any confession there will be a small group of fundamentalists, whose work is to destroy in the interests of an idea, not of a reality. Reality is superior to an idea. God, whether in Judaism, in Christianity, or in Islam, in the faith of those three peoples, accompanies God’s people with His presence. In the Bible we see it, Muslims in the Koran. Our God is a God of nearness, which accompanies. Fundamentalists push God away from the companionship of His people; they dis-Incarnate Him, they transform Him into an ideology. Therefore, in the name of this ideological God, they kill, attack, destroy, and calumniate. Practically, they transform this God into a Baal, into an idol,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father also spoke of friendship towards Creation, underlining the dangers of deforestation and the hydroelectric installations in the Amazon rainforest.