08 December 2014, The Tablet

Pope: I am too old to do anything other than be myself

Pope Francis has said that he has been blessed with a lack of awareness, which enables him to carry out his reforms untroubled by what others might think of him.

The Pope said that he saw his obliviousness as a gift. He said: “God is good to me, he has bestowed on me a healthy amount of unawareness. I just do what I have to do.”

He said when he was elected in last year he said to himself: "Jorge, don’t change, just keep on being yourself, because to change at your age would be to make a fool of yourself.”

In an interview with Argentinian newspaper La Nacion, Francis acknowledged that he had encountered some opposition since his election last year. But he said it was “healthy” to have disagreement rather than “secretive mumbling”.

He said: "Certain resistance has surfaced; I think it’s a good sign when things are discussed openly and not secretly if people don’t agree. It’s good to discuss things openly, it’s healthy." But he insisted the resistance was not against him personally but based on differences between "contrasting pastoral positions".

The Pope also used the interview to warn that the “complex” reform of the Roman Curia will not be ready by next year. The group of nine cardinals were tackling it “little by little” he said but it would take a long time.

The planned Dicasteries for Laypersons, Family, Justice and Peace may be united under the reforms, he said, but heads of dicasteries will continue to be cardinals.

He said “This is best because dicasteries are very close to the Pope.” However the dicastery secretaries do not necessarily have to be bishops and could be a woman or a couple, he said, whoever is “best fitted” for the job, he added.

Francis dismissed reports that Cardinal Raymond Burke’s move from the head of the Vatican’s highest court to Malta was a demotion in response to his having led opposition to proposals backed by the Pope during October's Synod on the Family.

Cardinal Burke was one of five cardinals who published a rejection of proposals to give Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, and later reportedly said that the Church was “without a rudder” under Francis' leadership.

The Pope insisted that Cardinal Burke had gladly accepted a new position as Patron of the Order of Malta. He said: “We needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position.” He added: “He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer, I even think he liked it.”

He said that Burke did not take up the position until after the synod because Francis wanted him to participate in the talks, something his new role would not have permitted.

Photo: CNS

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