Pope Francis responds to heresy accusation, China concerns

Vatican City, May 29, 2019 / 10:05 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said he reacted “with a sense of humor” to the accusation of heresy made against him earlier this month.

“It does not hurt me at all. Hypocrisy and lies hurt me, these hurt me. But such a mistake, where there are even people who have filled their heads with … no, please, you have to take care of them too,” Pope Francis said in a Spanish interview published May 28.

Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki asked the pope how he took the accusation that he was a heretic, to which he responded, “With a sense of humor, my daughter.”

“I also pray for them because they are wrong and poor people, some are manipulated. And who are those who signed…?” Pope Francis added, alluding to an open letter signed by a group of 19 Catholics who accused the pope of “the canonical delict of heresy.”

Pope Francis touched on many topics in the 13,000 word interview from clerical sexual abuse to a potential papal trip to China.

“My dream is China. I love the Chinese very much,” Pope Francis said. “Relations with China are good, very good.”

“The other day two Chinese bishops came to me, one who came from the underground church and the other from the patriotic church, already recognized as brothers. They came here to visit us. This is an important step. They know that they must be good patriots and that they must take care of the Catholic flock,” he continued.

When asked if some Catholics “felt sidelined” by the Sino-Vatican agreement signed in September 2018, the pope responded, “Catholics in general no. Catholics are happy to be united now.”

“In fact Easter was celebrated all together, all together and in all the churches. There were no problems this year,” he said.

Chinese government officials detained Father Peter Zhang Guangjun, an underground priest of the diocese of Xuanhua, after Palm Sunday Mass on April 14. Guanjun was one of three priests held in detention by authorities in China in April 2019.

Pope Francis answered questions regarding scandals surrounding former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Argentine Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, Australian Cardinal George Pell,  resigned Chilean bishop Juan Barros, and past papal responses to Fr. Marcial Maciel.

“Crises are also about growth; for me it is a crisis of growth, where you have to fix certain things, promote others and move on, ahead,” Pope Francis said.

“I believe that the Church is changing, as shown by the attempts at reform that we are making,” he said.

“The Vatican City State as a form of government, the Curia, whatever it is, is the last European court of an absolute monarchy. The last. The others are now constitutional monarchies, the court is diluted. Here there are still court structures that must fall,” he said.

“People want to reform. For example, the palace of Castel Gandolfo, which comes from a Roman emperor, restored in the Renaissance, today is no longer a papal palace, today it is a museum, it is all a museum,” he said.

Pope Francis said that it is not his reform, but something “the cardinals have requested.”

“The scheme of the court is what has to disappear. And this was requested by all the cardinals, well, most, thanks be to God,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis also remarked that criticism of the Church can be a good thing. He said, “Saint Catherine of Siena criticized cardinals and, at times, beat up on the pope. And she was a saint!”

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