On March 31 at the Vatican, Pope Francis gave an interview to a group of young people from Flanders, Belgium, who were accompanied by Bishop Luc Van Looy, bishop of Ghent. Among the topics discussed were happiness, the pope’s love of the poor, and how to witness to those who do not believe in God. The group included a group of four who had attended World Youth Day in Rio, as well as a young woman who is an atheist.
Catholic News Agency recently released a transcript of the interview. Below are a few of the young peoples’ questions and the Holy Father’s answers:
You have shown your great love of the poor and the wounded in many ways. Why is this so important for you?
Because this is the heart of the Gospel. I am a believer. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ and his Gospel. And, the core of the Gospel is the proclamation to the poor. When you read the Beatitudes, for example, or you read Matthew 25, you see there how Jesus is clear in this. The core of the Gospel is this. And Jesus says of himself, “I came to announce to the poor, freedom, health, the grace of God…” To the poor. Those who need salvation, that need to be welcomed in society. Then, if you read the Gospel, you see that Jesus had a certain preference for the marginalized. The lepers, the widows, orphaned children, the blind… marginalized people. And also the great sinners… and this is my consolation! Yes, because He is not even scared of sin! When he came across a person like Zaccheus, who was a thief, or like Matthew, who was a traitor to his heritage (patria) for money, He was not afraid! He looked at the them and he chose them. Also this is a poverty: the poverty of sin. For me, the heart of the Gospel is of the poor. I heard two months ago that someone said, for this reason (he is) speaking of the poor, because of this preference: “This Pope is a communist.” No! This is a banner of the Gospel, not of Communism: of the Gospel! But poverty without ideology, poverty… And for this reason I believe that the poor are at the center of the proclamation of Jesus. It’s enough just to read it. The problem is that then this attitude toward the poor sometimes, in history, has been ideologized. No, it is not like that: ideology is another thing. It is like this in the Gospel: it is simple, very simple. Also in the Old Testament, you see this. And it’s for this reason that I always place it at the center.
I see God in others. Where do you see God?
I seek – seek! – to find him in all of life’s circumstances. I seek… I find him in the reading of the Bible, I find him in the celebration of the Sacraments, in prayer and also in my work I seek to find him, in the people, in different people… Most of all, I find him in the sick. The sick do me good, because I ask myself, when I am with a sick person, why this one yes and me no? And with those in prison I find him. Why is this person incarcerated and not me? And I speak with God, “You always make injustices, why to this person and not to me?” And, I find God in this, but always in dialogue. It does me good to look for him during the entire day. I am unable to do it, but I try to do this, to be in dialogue. I am not able to do it precisely like that. The saints did this well, I still don’t … but I am on the path.
Our last question, do you have a question for us?
The question I want to ask you is not original. I take it from the Gospel. But I think that after hearing it, maybe it will be the right one for you in the this moment. Where is your treasure? This is the question. Where does your heart rest? On what treasure does your heart rest? Because there where your treasure is will be your life. The heart is attached to the treasure, to a treasure that all of us have: power, money, pride, so many… or goodness, beauty, the will to do good… There can be so many treasures. Where is your treasure? This is the question I would like to ask you, but you will have to give the response yourselves, alone! At your home…
For the full interview, visit Catholic News Agency.