The Pope on climate change, humankind “is a stupid and stubborn man, that does not see”

Francis on the Cartagena-Rome Flight

The Pope on climate change, humankind “is a stupid and stubborn man, that does not see”

By Andrea Tornielli/ lastampa.it

On the return flight from Colombia, Francis answers questions on the policies to stop immigrant landings and expresses his gratitude to Italy. On hurricanes and floods, “We are arrogant, we do not want to see. But scientists are very clear about the human influence on climate change.” On Trump who abolished dreamers’ DACA law, “If he is a good pro-life, he should defend family unity. On Venezuela, “I believe that the UN must.

“I leaned out to greet the children and didn’t see the glass, and... pum! The Pope with a smile and an obvious dark bruise framing his left cheek, answers the question on how he feels after the small accident that happened to him in Cartagena. Immediately after the Avianca flight took off from Cartagena, Francis spoke for 38 minutes with journalists on immigration, climate change, Trump’s latest measures and the situation in Venezuela. He confirmed that he had a private meeting with the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, but denied that there was talk of immigration. He expressed his support to Italy for what the country is doing by trying to manage the emergency landings and regulate immigration flows.”

The Italian Church has expressed understanding for the government’s policy on restricting departures from Libya. There was news about your meeting with Mr. Gentiloni, President-in-Office of the Italian Council: did you talk about this issue? And what do you think about this policy of blocking departures, bearing in mind the fact that migrants who remain in Libya live in inhumane conditions?

“That with Gentiloni was a personal meeting, it happened before this problem, and was not on this subject. I feel however the duty to express gratitude for Italy and Greece because they have opened their hearts to migrants. Welcoming them is a commandment of God... But a government must manage this problem with the virtue of prudence. So, first of all, how many places do you have? Secondly, not only “welcoming them”, but also “integrating them”. I have seen examples in Italy of beautiful integrations. When I went to Roma Tre University, I seemed to recognize the last of the four students who asked me questions, I already knew her faces. She was one of those who came with me on the plane from Lesvos. She learned the language, her academic qualifications have been recognized. This is called integration. Three: there is a humanitarian problem. Humanity is becoming aware of these lagers, of the conditions in which these migrants live in the desert, I have seen some photos. I’m under the impression that the Italian Government is doing whatever they can in the humanitarian field, resolving even problems that should not be of their concern. So: always have an open heart, caution, integration and humanitarian closeness. But then there is our collective unconscious thinking: Africa must be exploited. We must turn this upside down: Africa is a friend and must be helped.”

While we are flying, we are pass near Hurricane Irma which, after causing dozens of deaths in the Caribbean, is now heading towards Florida where there are millions of displaced people. Scientists think that ocean warming makes hurricanes more intense. Is there a moral responsibility of those political leaders who refuse to cooperate with other nations by denying that this climate change is man-made?

“Those who deny this must ask the scientists: they speak very clearly, they are precise. The other day the news came out of a Russian ship that went from Norway to Japan and crossed the North Pole without finding ice. From a university, they have said that we only have three years “to step back”, if not, the consequences will be terrible. I don’t know if the three years are true or not, but if we don’t step back, we will fall! We can see climate change in its effects, and we all have a moral responsibility when we make decisions. I think that is a very serious matter. We all have our moral responsibility and politicians have their own. Let them ask the scientists and then decide. History will judge on their decisions.”

Italy is starting to feel the climate change. There have been many deaths in recent days and so much damage... Why is it that governments are delaying this realization, whereas on other issues they keep soliciting, like on the Korean arms race, for example?

“A phrase from the Old Testament comes to my mind: man is a stupid man, a stubborn man who does not see, the only animal that falls twice in the same hole. The arrogance and conceit... and then there is the “Mighty Dollar”. Many decisions depend on money. Today in Cartagena I started by visiting a poor area of the city. On the other hand, there is the tourist side, luxury, and a kind of luxury without moral measures. But do those who are there not notice this? Do socio-political analysts not realize this? When you don’t want to see you don’t see, you look only look at one side. On North Korea: I’m really not understanding the world of geopolitics, but I believe that there is a struggle of interests that escapes me.”

Every time you meet young people, you always tell them: do not let hope and the future be taken away from you. President Trump in the United States has abolished DACA, the “dreamers’ law”, which means that 800,000 illegal boys and girls who entered illegally when they were minors will lose their future. What do you think about it?

“I have heard of the abolition of this law, but I have not been able to read the articles on how and why this decision was taken. I do not know the situation well. However, detaching young people from their family won’t bear any good fruit for young people or the family. This law comes from the executive and not from Parliament: if that is the case, I hope that they will think it over again a little bit. I have heard the President of the United States speak, who presents himself as a pro-life. If he is a good pro-life, he understands the importance of family and life: the unity of the family must be defended. When young people feel exploited, they ultimately feel hopeless. And who steals it? Drugs, other kinds of addictions, suicide… achievable when your roots are cut off. Anything that goes against the roots steals hope.”

At the end of this trip you spoke about Venezuela, you prayed for the end of violence in that country. And in Bogota you met with some Venezuelan bishops. The Holy See is engaged in dialogue but President Nicolas Maduro uses violent words against the bishops, while affirming that he is “with Pope Francis”. What are your thoughts on that?

“I believe that the Holy See has spoken loudly and clearly. What Maduro says, Maduro should explain. I do not know what he has in mind. The Holy See has done so much, sending that workgroup with the four former presidents, a top-level nuncio: He has spoken with people and publicly. I have often spoken at the Angelus, looking for an “exit”, offering help to get out of this situation, but it seems very difficult and what is most painful is the humanitarian problem: so many people who run away or suffer. We must help to solve the situation in every way. I believe that the United Nations must make itself felt there, to help.”

You arrived in Colombia in a country divided between those who accept the peace agreements and those who do not accept them. What needs to be done to overcome hatred? If you return in a few years, how would you like to find Colombia?

“The motto of this journey was “Let’s take the first step”. If i come back, i would like the motto to be: “Let’s take the second step”. It is about 54 years of guerrilla warfare, and much hatred has accumulated, many sick souls. The disease is not is not to blame, it comes.... These guerrillas and paramilitaries have committed ugly sins and brought this disease of hatred. But there are steps that give hope. The last is the ELN (National Liberation Army)’s ceasefire, and I thank them so much. I have perceived a desire to move forward that goes beyond the current negotiations, a spontaneous force. There lies the desire of the people. The people want to breathe and we must help them with closeness and prayer.”

Colombia has suffered many decades of violence due to armed conflict and drug trafficking. Corruption is not new in our country, but now that there is no more news about the war, it has become so visible. What to do with this scourge? Should the corrupt ones be excommunicated?

“Can the corrupt ones be forgiven? I ask myself, and when in a province of Argentina, a case of violence and abuse on a young girl that involved also political powers took place, I wrote a small book entitled “Sin and corruption”. We are all sinners, and we know that the Lord is close to us and does not tire of forgiving us. But the sinner asks for forgiveness, while the corrupt one gets tired of asking for forgiveness and forgets how forgiveness is asked: he is in a state of insensitivity to the values, to the exploitation of the person. It is very difficult to help someone who is corrupt, but God can do it.”

You spoke of the first step, today you said that in order to achieve peace, it is necessary to involve different players. Do you think that the Colombia model is replicable in other conflicts?

“Involving other people: this is not the first time it has happened, it has been done in so many conflicts. It is a wise way to “go forward”, it is the wisdom to ask for help. Political agreements sometimes help and sometimes require UN intervention in order to get out of a crisis, but a peace process will go ahead only if the people take it into their own hands”.

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 22:55
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