During the flight back to Rome, the pope underlined the strength of young people he had encountered during his six-day trip to Africa. He said he is struck by how they contrast with aging European.
What is the origin of this aging of Europe? I think – this is a personal opinion of mine - that well-being is at the root. Being attached to well-being – “We are comfortable, I am not having children because I need to buy a villa, I want to go on holiday, I’m fine like this, a child is a risk, you never know…” But this well-being and tranquility is something that will age you. Instead, Africa is full of life.
On the other hand, the pope said he appreciates when he receives loyal criticism. He believes those who criticize are not hoping to cause a schism in the Church.
In the Church there is always the option for schism, always. But it is an option that the Lord leaves to human freedom. I am not afraid of schisms, I pray that there will be none, because what is at stake is people’s spiritual health. Let there be dialogue, let there be correction if there is an error, but the schismatic path is not Christian.
What does concern the pope is the spread of xenophobia, especially in the West. He doesn't respect leaders who build walls to prevent others from entering.
Very often, xenophobia rides the waves of political populism. I said last week, or the one before, that sometimes, in some places, I hear speeches being given that sound similar to those made by Hitler in 1934. It’s as if they wanted to return to the past in Europe.
Pope Francis also touched on issues such as peace in Africa, care for the environment. He also spoke about corruption which leads to exploiting people at all levels, such as unfair treatment of land or domestic workers.