Pope’s press conference on ‘plane from Korea

America provides below the full transcript of the pope’s press conference.

The translation was made by Gerard O’Connell, its Vatican correspondent, who travelled on the plane with the pope.

This is not an official translation.

Q. During the visit to Korea, you reached out to the families of the Sewol ferry disaster and consoled them.

Two questions: What did you feel when you met them? And were you not concerned that your action could be misinterpreted politically?

A. When you find yourself in front of human suffering, you have to do what your heart brings you to do.

Then later they might say, he did this because he had a political intention, or something else.

They can say everything. But when you think of these men, these women, fathers and mothers who have lost their children, brothers and sisters who have lost brothers and sisters, and the very great pain of such a catastrophe…my heart. I am a priest, I feel that I have to come close to them, I feel that way. That’s first.

I know that the consolation that I can give, my words, are not a remedy.

I cannot give new life to those that are dead. But human closeness in these moments gives us strength, solidarity.

I remember when I was archbishop of Buenos Aires, I experienced two catastrophes of this kind.

One was a fire in a dance hall, a pop-music concert, and 194 people died in it. That was in 1993.

And then there was another catastrophe with trains, and I think 120 died in that.

At those times I felt the same thing, to draw close to them. Human pain is strong and if we draw close in those sad moments we help a lot.

And I want to say something more.

I took this ribbon (from relatives of the Sewold ferry disaster, which I am wearing) out of solidarity with them, and after half a day someone came close to me and said, “It is better remove it, you should be neutral.”

But listen, one cannot be neutral about human pain. I responded in that way. That’s how I felt.

Q. You know that recently the U.S. forces have started bombing the terrorists in Iraq, to prevent a genocide, to protect minorities, including Catholics who are under your guidance.

My question is this: do you approve the American bombing? Continue reading



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