During the flight back to Rome, the Pope addressed many topics with the journalists on the plane.
The first item discussed was the trip itself and the global situation of Africa—a continent marked by endless wars and riches that others exploit.
We need to get rid of the idea that Africa is there to be exploited. Africa has dignity.
Journalists reminded Pope Francis of the unusual gesture he made in 2019. During a meeting with the country's warring leaders, the Pope kissed their feet, asking them to reach an agreement that would end the war. The journalists asked if Pope Francis would be willing to do the same with the presidents of Ukraine and Russia.
I am open to meeting with both presidents: both the Ukrainian and the Russian presidents. I am open to having the meeting. I haven't gone to Kyiv yet because it wasn't possible to go to Moscow at that time. But I had been in communication with them.
Pope Francis was very impressed by the role of women in South Sudan, especially because many of them are left to raise several children alone in a country at war. He was also moved by the courage of the religious women and missionaries, some of whom have lost their lives in South Sudan. For this reason, the Pope criticized the fact that sometimes in the West it seems that the role of women is reduced to cosmetics advertising
Let's go back to the strength of a woman. We have to take her seriously and not only use her as a make-up advertisement. Please, this is an insult to the woman. The woman is made for greater things!
Journalists also asked the Pope if, after the death of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, he has noticed more tension in parts of the Church and if this has made it more difficult for him to govern.
I think Benedict's death has been exploited by people who want to carry water to their own mill.
Those are not ethical people. They are partisan people not Church people.
Pope Francis also spoke of his upcoming trips. After visiting Marseille, France in September to meet with the bishops of the Mediterranean, the Pope expressed his desire to go to Mongolia.