Pope Francis and Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi on the return flight © Tiziana Fabi / Pool
On his flight back from Armenia to Rome, Pope Francis faced questions from journalists traveling with him. Among other things, he took a stand on the Brexit vote and looked ahead to the Reformation celebrations this October.
In the wake of the Brexit vote in Britain, Pope Francis has proposed loosening the structures of cooperation in the European Union. "It may be appropriate to think about a new, freer form of union". According to the Roman daily "La Repubblica", he said this on Sunday evening on the flight back to Rome. Thus, he said, the EU must return to the "strength of its roots".
Appreciation of Martin Luther
In view of his planned participation in the Reformation celebrations on 31. October 2016 in Lund, Sweden, Francis paid tribute to the reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). "I believe that Martin Luther's intentions were not wrong, he was a reformer," the pope said. It is possible that his methods were wrong. But the church, he said, was not a model worth emulating at the time. There had been corruption and infighting. Luther had protested against this.
Referring to critical comparisons between him and his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Francis stressed there is a pope and a pope emeritus. Benedict's resignation from office was courageous and theologically sound, paving the way for this unprecedented situation, said the head of the Church, who visited Armenia from Friday to Sunday.
Apology to homosexuals
For the exclusion of homosexuals, the Catholic Church should apologize, according to Francis. The catechism of the Church prescribes that they must not be discriminated against, but must be respected and accompanied pastorally, said the Pope on the return flight. He also cited other reasons for the church to apologize, such as to the poor and to exploited women and children. Likewise, she would have to apologize for blessing weapons.
In the press conference aboard the plane, the pope also repeated his famous July 2013 statement that if a person is homosexual, of good will and seeking God, "who are we to judge them??" There are cultures in some countries that have a "different mentality" on this ie, Francis continued. One should not condemn "homosexuals for "ideological motives". The only thing that can be condemned is "political behavior; certain rallies that are too offensive to others".
Francis thus responded to a question about what he said about the accusation after the Orlando attack that the Catholic Church contributed to hatred of homosexuals. The U.S. journalist based her question on a statement made by Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx; he had recently said in Dublin that the church should apologize for marginalizing homosexuals.