10 April 2014, The Tablet

Young people granted 45-minute papal television interview

Five young Belgians landed a rare 45-minute television interview with Pope Francis last week as part of a communications project that grew out of their participation in last year’s World Youth Day in Brazil.

The interview, shown on the Flemish public channel VRT on 3 April, was organised at short notice by Ghent Bishop Lucas Van Looy, who bypassed the Vatican press office and appealed to a priest he knows in the Pope’s entourage. “It went very quickly, much more than we could have dreamed of,” said Thomas Goyvaerts, one of the five.

Most questions were asked in English and the Pope replied in Italian. The first question was why he received the group, one of whom was not a believer. "When I sense that a young man or woman has some concern, I think it's my duty to serve that young person ... at this time, I feel I can do you a valuable service by listening to your concern." 

Asked what makes him afraid, the Pope said, “Well, myself!” before reassuring the Belgians that everyone had fear now and then. “There is good and bad fear. Good fear is like prudence, a careful attitude. Bad fear is fear that limits you. It makes you small ... You must lose that fear.”

At the end, they asked if he had a question for them. Francis said his question came from the Gospel: "On what treasure does your heart rest? Because your life will be where your treasure is kept.” That treasure could be power, money, pride or goodness, he said. “This is the question I'm asking you, but you'll need to reply to it yourselves, on your own, at home."

Receiving the organising committee for last year’s WYD, led by Cardinal Orani Joao Tempesta, Archbishop of San Paulo, on Monday, the Pope joked that the Brazilian people were thieves since they had “stolen his heart”. He thanked the committee for this “theft”, since it helped quell his longing for Brazil.

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