[FrankenPope on FrankenPope (“My bark is worse than my bite” and “My singing is like a braying donkey”) and other tidbits (or soundbites)]
Responding to questions of children from Pueri Cantores, Francis speaks about his childhood ambition to be a butcher and how much he loves to hear people sing. “Only bad news”, on TV because good news “does not make any ratings”, “people get bored.” But “the world can improve” if we all strive not to give in to the temptations of the devil.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “I get angry, but do not bite”, if “I sung I’d sound like an ass” and the TV only reports bad news because “good news doesn’t make the ratings”, because “people get bored.” But “the world can improve” if we all strive not to give in to the temptations of the devil”.
These are some of the statements made this morning by Pope Francis in response to questions put to him by members of the Pueri Cantores, an international organization of children’s choirs, which has gathered six thousand members in Rome for their 40th International Congress.
Speaking to them about song, the Pope said, “I feel like singing, but if I sing, I sound like an ass, because I cannot sing. I do not even know how to speak very well, because I have a speech defect, phonetics … But I love to hear people singing. And I will tell you an anecdote. As a child – we are five brothers and sisters – as children, our mother, on Saturday, at two in the afternoon, would sit in front of the radio to listen to it. And what did we listen to? Every Saturday it was the transmission of an [opera]. And that was how our mother taught us about opera, she explained it to us”. And “singing educates the soul, singing is good for the soul. For example, when a mother wants her baby to sleep, she does not say: ‘One, two, three, four …’. She sings a lullaby … she sings … and its good for the soul, the child becomes quiet and sleeps. St. Augustine says it so beautifully. Each of you must learn how to sing in your own language. Speaking of the Christian life, the joy of the Christian life, he says: ‘Sing and walk’. The Christian life is a journey, but it is not a sad journey, no it is a joyful journey. And for that we sing. Sing and walk, do not forget! “.
Pope Francis then discussed anger. “I get angry, but I do not bite! Sometimes I get angry when someone does something that is not good, it makes me a little ‘… But it helps me to stop and think about the times that I have angered others. And I think, and I wonder: Have I angered others? Yes, many times. Then you have no right to be angry. But he this did … Yes, but if he did something that is bad, that is not good, call him and talk to him like a brother, like brother and sister talk, talk, talk. But without getting angry, because anger is poisonous, it poisons the soul. So often I have seen children frightened. Why? Because parents, or at school, scold them. And when one is angry and scolds it hurts, it hurts: scolding another is like stabbing the soul, it is not good. You got it right? I get angry, yes, sometimes I get angry, but it helps me to think about the times in which I have made others angry, this reassures me a bit ‘, it clams me a little. Getting angry is something that hurts not only the other person, it hurts you too, it poisons you. And there are people, that you surely know, who have a bitter soul, always bitter, angry. It’s as if they washed their teeth each morning with vinegar they are so angry! People who are like this … it’s a disease. Of course, if there’s something I do not like, I get angry a bit ‘. But this, the habit of getting angry, the habit of shouting, the habit of scolding the other, this is poison! I ask you, to ask yourselves this each in your own language and answer: Was the soul of Jesus, sweet or bitter? [Reply: ‘Sweet!’]. It was sweet, why? Because when he got angry it did not enter his soul, it was only to correct, and then he returned to peace. ‘What are your resolutions for the new year?’. I made one, when I took a bit ‘of time to make a retreat: To pray more. Because I realized that the bishops and priests – I am a bishop – must govern the people of God above all with prayer, it is our first service”.
Good news makes bad TV ratings
Other questions put to the Pope included what were his childhood ambitions? In the evening, when I watch TV with my family, I see so many sad and dramatic stories: the world will always be like this, even when I grow up? “If I told you the truth about the first question, I would make you laugh … to tell the truth. The question was: ‘When I was young, what did I dream of becoming?’ As a child I often went with my grandmother, but also with my mother, to the market to go shopping. At that time there were no supermarkets, there was no television, there was nothing … The market was on the way and there were places for vegetables, for fruit, for meat, for fish and you bought everything there. One day at home, at the table, I was asked: what would you like to do when you grow up? You know what I said? ‘To be a Butcher’. Why? Because there was the butcher in the market – there were 3 or 4 butchers – who took his knife, to slice the meat … and it was like a form of art, I used to like watching him at work. Now the idea has changed, of course; But, to answer your question, when I was little, I thought of becoming a butcher. I would have liked it”.
“Then, the second question – this is serious! -: ‘In the evening, while having dinner with my family, watching television, it is always reporting sad and tragic news … But when I am big, will the world always be like this?’. What you say is true. There are many people suffering in the world today. There are wars. But how many wars are there? In Africa, just think how many wars. The Middle East, where Jesus was born, it’s all in war. Ukraine, war. In many places. In Latin America there are wars. Things are bad! And what do wars do? They create poverty, pain, hurt. Only sad things … Think of the children. You boys and girls, boys and girls, you have the gift of God to be able to sing, to be happy, to live the Christian life as St. Augustine said – what did St. Augustine say? [Reply: ‘Sing and walk!’] – But there are children who have nothing to eat in the world; there are children who cannot go to school because there is war, poverty, and there are no schools. There are children who, when they get sick, they do not have the opportunity to go to the hospital. Pray for these children. Pray! But will the world always be so? The world can improve. But there is one thing I do not like to talk about, but of which I must speak is the struggle between good and evil in the world – the philosophers say – the struggle between the devil and God. It still exists. When each of us wants to do something bad, that little nastiness is an inspiration of the devil, who, through the weakness that original sin left in us, brings you to this. It does evil in small things as in great things; in the wars as – for example – a boy or a girl lying: it is a war against the truth of God, against the truth of life, against the joy. This struggle between the devil and God, the Bible says that it will continue to the end. This is clear, no? Do you understand this? It’s clear. We all have a battlefield within us. We are all struggling between good and evil, all of us. We have grace and temptations, and we need to talk with the priest, with the catechist of these things to know them well. This is the first. The second: there are many good things in the world, and I wonder: why do these good things never make the news? Because it seems that people like to see bad things or hear bad news more. We think Africa: so many bad things, so many wars – as I said – but there are missionaries, priests, nuns, who have spent their entire lives there, preaching the Gospel, in poverty … When I went to Africa last month I found the nun … an 83 year old I think, she was Italian, and she said ‘I’m here since I was 26’. And there are many holy families, many parents who educate children well. Why do we not you see a family that educates well, that educates there child to be a good person on TV? We never see it! Because there this attraction to evil: it seems as if it is preferable to see the bad things than the good things, the big things. The devil does his part – that’s true – but God also plays a role: many people are holy! Not only in the missions, but in the world, in work, in families; many parents, grandfathers and grandmothers who are ill, who have problems; and this is not seen on television. Why? Because it doesn’t get the ratings, no advertising … Here, in Italy, I discovered many associations, men and women, who give of their time to assist, to accompany, to be caretakers of the sick. This is good. But this is not publicized. It ‘s true or not this? If you want to make ratings – be it in journalism, on television, or whatever you want – then you just show bad things; people get bored with the good things. Or they do not know how to present and do things well, do good or see good things. When you [he turns to the girl who asked the question] watch television at home, remember these two things: there is a struggle in the world between good and evil, there are many children who suffer, there are wars, there are bad things, because the struggle is between God and the devil; but also think of so many people, so many holy people, so many people giving their lives to help others, to pray for others. Why can we not see the cloistered nuns who spend their lives praying for us all on TV? Because people are not interested … Perhaps they are more interested in the jewelry of a major firm… things of vanity. Let us not be fooled! Worldwide, there are bad things, bad, ugly, things and this is the work of the devil against God; but there are holy things, saintly things, great things that are God’s work. There are the hidden saints “.