Pope Francis responded to journalists' questions on board the papal plane for about 45 minutes. As usual, there were several issues on the table, but the pope first praised the reception he received in the United Arab Emirates. He defined the country as 'open.'
To continue understanding with the Muslim world, Pope Francis made several points clear starting from the statement he signed Monday with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University.
'For me there is only one great danger at this moment: destruction, war and hatred between us. If we are believers and we are not able to shake hands, hug and kiss and go pray, our faith will have been defeated. This document is born from faith in God, who is father of all, the father of peace and who condemns destruction and terrorism. FLASH From the Catholic point of view, the document has not departed even one millimeter from Vatican II. I've said it - not one bit. The document has been made in the spirit of Vatican II.” Wisdom and fidelity are the path that leads to the construction of peace. Peace is a result of wisdom and fidelity, human fidelity, fidelity among peoples. I had the impression of truly being among wise scholars, to have their support is a guarantee for the Grand Imam. I was very satisfied.”
“The document is also condemnatory. It condemns the violence of some groups that say they are Islamic. The Council of Elders say this is not Islam, because they persecute Christians.”
With regard to international affairs, the pope first spoke of one that directly affects the region, and another particular concern in Latin America.
YEMEN AND VENEZUELA
“I would say that there are good intentions to start peace processes. I have seen this intention. I have spoken about some situations of war, you mentioned that of Yemen. I have found good intentions for peace processes. I knew from before this trip a letter from Maduro was arriving through diplomatic channels. I have not read that letter yet, this one that arrived. We will see what can be done. A mediation is required, but the at the desire of both parties. Both must ask for it.”
Pope Francis also answered a question about sexual abuse, especially those perpetrated against religious.
'It's a real problem... Let me start here. Abuse against women is a problem. I dare say that humanity has not matured and considers the woman second-class. Let's start here, for the cultural problem that goes until femicide. There are countries where mistreatment of women goes all the way to femicide.'
'I cannot say that 'in my house this does not happen,' right? Do we have to do something else? Yes. Do we have the desire to do it? Yes. We've already done somethings. Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation where this slavery had entered into against women, including sexual slavery on the part of clerics or founders. Many times the founders take away freedom, rid the sisters of freedom and reach this point. About Pope Benedict, I would like to emphasize that he is a man who had the courage to do many things about this.'
Concluding his trip to the United Arab Emirates, the pope ends his second international trip of 2019. The next one will be to Morocco, at the end of March.