(Caracas) Pope Francis accepted the resignation last Saturday of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the new Secretary of State. On 4 August the Venezuelan newspaper published an interview with the former nuncio and future cardinal. The Vatican diplomat Archbishop Parolin is a man of few words, and those he uses, he weighs carefully, as it is expected of a diplomat. It was not easy to persuade him to be interviewed, writes Manuel Isidro Molina, the journalist of the pro-government daily newspaper Ultimas Noticias, who conducted the interview. The answers give some insight into the person, his understanding of diplomacy and thus also a preview of how he will fill the highest office of the Roman Curia behind the Pope.
It took place at the end of July at the Apostolic Nunciature in Caracas, shortly after Nicolas Maduro, the successor of Chavez returned as Venezuelan president from visiting the Vatican with Pope Francis. The responses of the nuncio and the new Secretary of State of the Holy See took place against the background of Venezuela, which is dominated by Bolivarism, a left national state ideology with nationalist and Marxist elements.
What has happened in the Church since last 13 March as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen as the new Pope?
I think that nothing new is happening in the Church in the sense that something is new and normal.
Getting ready for renewal?
That's right, always, because the main actor in the Church is the Holy Spirit.
How do you interpret the "phenomenon" Francis?
What moves me and what I consider to be a miracle of the election of Pope Francis is the abrupt climate change, which was perceived immediately. Previously there was a pessimism entirely unjustified, as I add, because Pope Benedict XVI. has done everything humanly possible to renew the Church, if we think for example of the great commitment in the fight against pedophilia.
It seems that to have to face the pressure of pedophilia and corruption, have exhausted him ...
Yes, I suspect that too. We were focused on these issues and it seemed as if the Church were not able to renew itself: but suddenly, after this election and the first utterances of the Pope, the situation changed completely. It made a climate of hope, renewal, a broad future that previously seemed hopelessly blocked. And I really look upon as great miracle. The courage and the humility of Benedict XVI. to take a step back, goes in the same direction as the courage and the humility of Pope Francis to accept the papacy, and the new wind that he has brought.
What impressed you most in the pontificate of St. Francis?
What impresses me most is the complete change of perception that it was for the Church. From a besieged Church with a thousand problems, one might say, a little sick Church, we have moved to a Church that has opened.
He has revitalized it ...
Exactly, and now we look with great confidence in God's future. It seems to me that that's the best thing that has happened to us.
What does it mean that the Pope made his first trip to Brazil?
That's a coincidence, because it was already decided that the World Youth Day will be held in Brazil. Therefore, it fell to the Pope, any Pope to be there.
A chance also that Pope Francis has taken a decision for the poor and that Brazil was the cradle of liberation theology?
To liberation theology, and I say it with all my heart, because there has been much suffering, things are clarified.These painful, passionate years have led to clarify things. The Church, that’s right, has a preferential option for the poor.This is a decision that the Church has made on a universal level. But it has also clarified that the option for the poor nor is it an alternative option.
Yes, a preferential. However, this means that the Church is church for all. The church offers all the Gospel with a special attention to the poor, because they are especially loved by the Lord, because you know, you can accept the gospel only in an attitude of poverty.
The simplicity, Francis proclaimed ...
Pope Francis goes in this direction. This attention he has shown since the first moments of his pontificate, represents a fundamental option in the center of the Church, which applies to everyone, but with a special attention to the poor.
This is a reading that is true for Latin America and the Caribbean believers. Which reading there might be among the African believers?
There are differences. Liberation theology had less resonance in Africa than in Latin America.
And in Europe with the worker priests ...
Yes, of course, but not in Africa. The attention of Pope Francis for the poor is good news for Africa, which experienced conflicts and forms of inequality in different countries. I think the emphasis that sets the Pope, is also important for Africa, for the whole area, which relates to the issue of social justice and peace, which were treated by the two synods held in the Vatican for Africa.
The issue of poverty is a human issue for the Church. For Marxists, it is also a question of class ...
The Church can not accept the Marxist categories of class struggle. One point among the various problems that existed with those who represented the liberation theology, was the use of the Marxist category of class struggle in their teaching. The Church is always aimed as a first step in the conversion of hearts and the education of human solidarity, a solidarity which not only personally enables, but structurally overcomes the problems of society. The Church receives an enormous treasure, namely its social doctrine.
Which measures the weight of church corruption as the cause of these problems?
The Pope has drawn attention. It is a topic that the Church, because she knows that corruption harms the character of the society and attracts many consequences for how the gennanten. It is important that we fight corruption, especially through education, which is a core area for the church. The education of the people to law-abiding, to be honest, the match between word and deed, so that people are able to reject these temptations and to build a healthy society, a positive society.
Pope Francis has inspired increased inter-religious relations, at least between the monotheistic religions ... What is true for the mixture of Latin American and Caribbean beliefs?
,The Pope has expressed ecumenical dialogue between Christians and the inter-religious dialogue in terms of its predecessors, for example, of the meeting with John Paul II in Assisi. Pope Francis is very clear: we must continue on this path.
And the mishmash of Latin American-Caribbean beliefs?
The Church follows the principle of St. Paul to take note of everything and take what is good and healthy. All that is compatible with the Gospel may be adopted.
Are there signs of a possible visit of Pope Francis in Venezuela?
I can not say. We do not know what the intentions of the Pope will be.
President Nicolas Maduro has invited him on his visit to the Vatican ...
According to my knowledge, he has not invited him. According to yours?
He has opened him the opportunity to come ...
Yes, but a formal invitation, I think there seems to be no. The President is to have said something like the gates are open to Venezuela.
In any case, he did not tell him that they are closed ...
[Laughter] No, not that. At this moment, as far as I know there has been no formal invitation to the Pope to come to Venezuela.
Is the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the opinion that this meeting was good?
Was there an immediate impact?
The evaluation of the meeting of Pope Francis with President Maduro was positive in terms of the dialogue that advances the Church. It was a testimony of dialogue. The Pope is always ready to welcome all.
He has proved it: with the Argentine President Cristina Kirchner there were rumored disagreements.
The Pope received and embraced her.
He has received President Maduro, in which you claimed that there were differences ...
That's right, the Pope is open to receive all and talk to everybody. It seems to me that the meeting with President Maduro was helpful for a dialogue with the Church here in Venezuela.
An improvement in the quality?
At least, contact channels are open and dialogue is seen as a means of solving problems.
To understand the problems?
To understand and solve problems in a peaceful, humane and Christian way.
What perception does the Church have of the social suffering that prevails due to the economic crisis in different European countries?
The Church and the Christians, as the Second Vatican Council says, is currently celebrating its 50 years, to make all the dramas of the contemporary their own. The Church has appealed that human suffering be taken into account in solving the crisis suffered by Europe.
And what happens to the "wild capitalism” as John Paul II has criticized it? Benedict XVI. has criticized it and Pope Francis criticizes it. Nevertheless, this direction continues to dominate Europe?
This is a worrying thing. The Church is continuing its demand that all this is corrected, so that the human is measured against the economic, according to ethics and morality. Man must come before the economic laws. This is a fundamental discourse for the Church, and we all have papal encyclicals from Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII. up to Caritas in Veritate of Benedict XVI.
Translation: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Don Antonio Lasierra / La cigüeña de la torre
Image: Don Antonio Lasierra / La cigüeña de la torre
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org