Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?
I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of
speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.
Why did you become a Jesuit, a member of the Society
Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary
spirit, community and discipline. And this is strange, because I am a
really, really undisciplined person. But their discipline, the way they
manage their time — these things struck me so much.
What did you learn in your early experience as
superior of the Jesuit province in Argentina?
My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious
problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative. I lived a time of
great interior crisis when I was in Cordova. To be sure, I have never been
like Blessed Imelda, but I have never been a right-winger. It was my
authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems.
What should the church say to divorced and remarried
people, and homosexuals?
In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are
“socially wounded” because they tell me that they feel like the church has
always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the
return flight from Rio de Janeiro, I said that if a homosexual person is of
good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I
said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion
in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not
possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.
A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of
homosexuality. I replied with another question: “Tell me: when God looks at
a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or
reject and condemn this person?” We must always consider the person.
What kind of church do you dream of?
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the
use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much
about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about
these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the
church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is
not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The
church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a
disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently …
We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the
church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and
fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple,
profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences
I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching.
What should be the role of the Vatican’s various
departments (or congregations)?
They are instruments of help. In some cases, however, when they are not
functioning well, they run the risk of becoming institutions of
It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to
Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’
conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in
fact, are much better dealt with locally. The Roman congregations are
mediators; they are not middlemen or managers.
What should be the role of women in the church?
I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of “female machismo,”
because a woman has a different makeup than a man. But what I hear about the
role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo. Women are asking
deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without
the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a
woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not
confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further
the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a
profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible
to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius
is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this:
to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the
authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.
If encountering God is a journey, then we can make
If one has the answers to all the questions — that is the proof that God is
not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for
himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always
left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our
certainties; we must be humble.
… Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is
written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing. … We
must enter into the adventure of the quest for meeting God; we must let God
search and encounter us.
… If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything
clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past
must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who
today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an
exaggerated doctrinal “security,” those who stubbornly try to recover a past
that no longer exists — they have a static and inward-directed view of
things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I
have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in
everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if
it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person’s
life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the
life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space
in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.