Pope Francis concluded his trip to Latin America with this intense press conference aboard the papal plane.
He explained what he was thinking when Bolivian President Evo Morales handed him a crucifix tied to the universal symbol for communism.
"We have to look at the context of this time. Fr. Espinal (the designer of the crucifix) was enthusiastic about Marxism, theology, and combining the two. And so that piece was made. Also, the poems Espinal composed were of this genre, poems of protest. It was his life, his thought. He was a special man, with creative thoughts. He fought with good intentions. Looking at it through this context, I understand the design. For me, it wasn't offensive, once it's seen in context. I want to make this clear, so there's no confusion.”
But he discussed much more than just that. He explained why he spoke in front of thousands of people who are involved in Catholic movements and why he didn't mind being used as a spokesperson.
"What have I done? I gave them the social doctrine of the Church, which is the same I do when I address the business world.”
Question: Do you believe that the Church will follow you in your outreach to popular movements?
"I follow the Church. I simply preach the Social Doctrine of the Church to the movements. It is not a helping hand to an enemy, not a political event. It's based on the Catechism.”
The Pope also said he was praying for the success of the peace process between Colombia and FARC rebels and for the bishops in Venezuela who face serious tension in their country.
Question: What are your thoughts about the delicate situations in Latin America, in Venezuela and in Colombia?
"At this moment, I am worried that the peace process in Colombia will stop. I must say this: I hope that it continues. In that sense, we always are available to help. It would be something terrible if it didn't go forward.”
"In Venezuela, the Episcopal Conference is focused on bringing peace there. But as far as your question, there is no direct mediation. The case with the U.S and Cuba, was the work of the Lord. It was a coincidence, and then it moved forward by itself. As far as Venezuela, I don't know anything.”
He also answered some more light-hearted questions, like this one about how he finds energy to keep up a long trip.
Question: We've seen your energy these past few days and in the last two years and a half. What's your secret?
"Do you mean, what's my drug? That's what you really want to know. The drug! Mate tea helps me, but I didn't try any coca leaf tea. I want to make that very clear!”
It was an hour-long conversations, thousands of miles in the air, in what has become a kind of tradition, where Pope Francis takes questions from journalists at the end of his papal trips.