The Pope’s Interview with La Croix

A Catholic French periodical named La Croix published an interview with Pope Francis yesterday.

Here it is in French. The interview was published in several parts (possibly to increase clicks): Migrants, Laicity (which in French means a deliberate secularization maintained by the French state, in order to separate church and state), His Idea of France, and the Synod on the Family.

Here is the magazine’s English translation, appearing in their English-language edition. This seems to be the entire interview as a whole, or at least all the published parts.

Here’s a video, but it’s just some kind of video press release.

The interview pages in French get cut off after a certain amount of time, and a popup ad appears that demands you subscribe to La Croix, so cut and paste in order to keep reading. Alternately, use a privacy browser

So here’s the bad news. Most of the English translation is not inaccurate when compared to the French one, although occasionally it covers up the Holy Father’s details. Of course, it is also possible that the French and English translations were both separate bad translations from the original Italian or Spanish, or that the French magazine just made stuff up or picked out bad stuff… but I wouldn’t rely on that.

So here’s some lowlights and highlights of the interview. I’ve tweaked the published English translation to make it line up more exactly with the French wording.

(Pope talks about wars in the Mideast and Africa, and underdevelopment in Africa, causing huge emigration. He elaborates about wars:)

“If there are wars, it is because there are manufacturers of arms (which arms can be justified for defensive purposes) and above all, arms traffickers.”

Sigh. Holy Father, I’m pretty sure that Cain didn’t kill Abel because he got a good arms deal on automatic rocks. Also, you need to read those Acton Institute books on Catholic economic theory as developed by the Salamancans and others.

“More than 80% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of about 16% of the population.”


And if you mean that “Most of the world’s economy is in first world countries, and yet most of the world doesn’t live there,” you’re not talking about Bill Gates bathing in a pile of money. You’re talking about a lot of ordinary people working hard over generations, and thus turning their countries into first world countries. If every country just had its own share of what its own people do and make economically, there wouldn’t be anything unfair about it.

“A completely free market does not work. Markets in themselves are good but they also require a third party, the State, to monitor and balance them. In other words, what is called a social market economy.”

Er… what? The friars and Jesuits from Salamanca would beg to differ.

“I don’t believe that today there is a fear of Islam, as such; but there is of Daesh and its war of conquest, drawn in part from Islam. The idea of conquest is inherent to the soul of Islam; that is true. However, one could interpret, with the same idea of conquest, the end of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus sends forth His disciples to all the nations.

“Before [asking about] the current Islamist terrorism, one should ask oneself about the way a too-Western model of democracy was exported into countries where a strong power was, as in Iraq. Or in Libya with a tribal structure – one cannot progress much without taking account of this culture.”


Interestingly, the French interview says that the Pope referred to “Daech” (the French spelling of Daesh, the insulting version of the terror nation’s name), whereas the English translation says “ISIS.” Which one did the Pope really say?

Also, “un pouvoir fort” seems to refer to the US as a world power occupying Iraq, not to the former government of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. I don’t know where the published English translation got “former government” out of the French.

“A state must be secular. Confessional states end badly. It goes against history. I believe that a secularism accompanied by a solid law – they guarantee religious
liberty – offers a framework for going forward. We are all equal, as sons of God or with our dignity of personhood.”

Also a bit boggle-worthy in its version of separation of Church and state. Catholic teaching supports this in some ways but not in others, as you can see in the Salamanca School and Bellarmine.

There were towns in Italy in the Middle Ages that were successfully run for centuries as voluntary religious communities, basically all one big sodality. On the other hand, the Church has always taught that is plenty of room for secular forms of government to run things on an earthly plane, not trying for theocracy while maintaining her own rights to teach morality and religion, and to call the clergy she chooses. (The lay sodality members ran the towns, not their priests.)

The Pope does urge France to ease up on those parts of “laicite” which go against individual rights of conscience, especially in the case of government bureaucrats.

– “What does France mean to you?”

– “‘The eldest daughter of the Church,’ but not the most faithful!” (laughs)

The Pope floats the idea of visiting Paris “and its banlieues”, which is to say the all-Muslim suburban neighborhoods with their half-jihadi gangs. This little bombshell seems to have gone unnoticed by the media.

Other stuff he talks about:

His favorite French saint (St. Therese of Lisieux)

Clericalization (which he illustrates with the idea that some Argentinian priests wanted to get every pious layman they met made into a deacon, as well as talking about how laypeople demand to be clericalized, thinking it will make things easier). Part of this is probably directed at the deaconess-with-clergy-powers idea, although it also explains a lot about the Holy Father’s odd comments in the past about the diaconate.

The SSPX (he says Fellay is someone you can talk with, and that talks are advancing slowly and with patience). Good!

I’m sure there’s a great deal more to say about this interview; but at least this gives us some idea of what the Pope actually said, before we all start going “Argh Argh Aaaargh.”


1 Comment

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One response to “The Pope’s Interview with La Croix

  1. To the Pope’s latest bit, I have to admit to a reaction of *Facepalm*. Not to mention a sudden stark sympathy for the Orthodox insistence that no one man can be infallible. Because, seriously, what. Has the current pope studied Church history? At all?

    “one should ask oneself about the way a too-Western model of democracy was exported into countries where a strong power was, as in Iraq.” – Right. I’m sure the 7th century Copts would be thrilled to find out the reason all of Egypt and North Africa was overrun by Muslim tribal invaders was Roman Egypt trying to export democracy.

    Multiply said examples by the past 1400 years.

    *Deep sigh.*

    Hang onto your hats, people; it’s going to be a bumpy papacy….

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