Bear’s Interview With Pope Francis

Bear’s Interview With Pope Francis

His interview with Pope Francis had apparently been an especially vivid dream [but] the “Pope’s” answers represented what the Bear’s subconscious fears he might truly believe.

Posted by St. Corbinian’s Bear at

At 7 a.m. yesterday, the Bear was just starting to eat his morning oatmeal when he got the biggest surprise of his life. His cell phone rang, and he answered it. On the other end a voice said this: “Please stand by for his Holiness.”

You can imagine what the Bear thought as his heart started to beat faster. Was it a prank? Why the Bear? Was he about to get chewed out by the Pope? Then the same voice said in the background, “Sua Santità, il Orso.”

“Parla italiano?” asked a familiar voice.

“Si,” the Bear answered. What followed was an incredible opportunity for the Bear to speak freely for 30 minutes with Pope Francis.

Pope Francis: “Good morning, Mr. Bear.” [The Bear could detect a trace of humor in his voice.] “I have seen your blog and it is very creative. And please, go right on ahead being hard on me. It is the voice of a segment of our Church, and it helps me. Besides” [again the humor] “your Pope has a sense of humor, too.”

Pope Video 1 and Universalism

Bear: [Pope Francis said he wanted to dispense with formalities and time was limited, so the Bear spent little time on pleasantries.] “Holy Father, the first thing that comes to mind is your monthly intention videos, or ‘Pope Videos.’ This Bear found the first quite disturbing. It appeared to promote Universalism. The video, not the intention. At the end it had people holding symbols of their different religions together as if they were equal. What are we to make of that? Do you believe Christianity is simply one religion among many?”


Pope Francis: “No. Of course not. I am a son of the Church, and believe that people are saved through Christ. But the reality is that we share our world with other religions. Does it not make sense to try to emphasize what we share, rather than our differences?”

Bear: “Actually, with all due respect, no. Those other religions are defined by their error, and their similarities to Christianity are overstated. Buddhism, one of the religions in the video, doesn’t even believe in God. How can they be saved outside of the Church? Why does the Church foster error?”

Pope Francis: “I must insist that each one of these religions does share things with Christianity. Where there is a lack, God’s mercy fills it. [Imagine a shrug in his voice.] A good person of any religion, or no religion, may be saved through Christ. You must remember that we, too, lack in mercy, in charity, in the care we show for the refugee, the poor, the planet. Everyone falls short. Even me, if your blog is to be believed! It is not that other religions are just as true, it is that wherever they fall short, God generously makes up for it.”

Bear: “So people do not have to accept Christ and be baptized to be saved?”

Pope Francis: “They must accept him in those in need they see around them. All salvation is through Christ. All salvation is through the Church. But we must get used to not focusing on the formalities. Christ is bigger than we can comprehend. The Church is not to be imagined as a bus, that you are either on or off. The Church is the bus stop, too. It is the sidewalk along the bus route, where people are walking, and the Church accompanies them. It is not just one tiny, cramped bus.”

Bear: “Were missionaries like St. Francis Xavier and, for that matter, St. Corbinian, misguided then?”

Pope Francis: “We have a different emphasis now. We accompany people in Christ. We have come to understand that to proselytize is to do violence to a person, a culture.”

Pope Video 3 and Contraception

Bear: “The Bear noticed in Pope Video 3 that there nearly no examples of families with more than two children. You have previously remarked that Catholics must be responsible and not breed like rabbits. Was the size of families in the videos a subtle message? Do you believe there is a problem with overpopulation? Do you encourage Catholics to have large families?”

Pope Francis: [laughs] “I did not even notice how big the families were in the video. That was not the focus. Of course there is a problem with overpopulation. Our planet can only support so many people, and we are at that limit now. In agricultural societies, it made sense to have large families. Plus, there was higher infant mortality in those days. But today, do we need families with seven children? Four children? On the whole, no. What right does a couple have to claim so many more resources than their neighbors? This is selfish. To me? I say this as my personal opinion: two children seems responsible. But it is up to each individual family, of course.”

Bear: “How are Catholics to regulate the size of their families?”

Pope Francis: “The Church’s teaching is very clear on this, of course. But the role of conscience and pastoral advice also must play a part, as with any important decision. As with most things, it is not black and white. There are competing factors. The danger to our planet. Allocation of resources. Sometimes one must decide the less damaging course where no decision seems completely proper.”

Bear: “Will you rule out contraception?”

Pope Francis: “As I said, the Church’s teaching is very clear.”

Relations With Other Faiths

Bear: “Just a quick follow-up before we move on, but you have condemned violence in the name of religion, in terms of ‘fundamentalists’ and the like — which you also use for elements within the Catholic Church. Why do you not simply say what everyone knows: that all the religious violence is coming from one religion, Islam?”

Pope Francis: “First of all, every religion has its extremist elements, even the Catholic Church, so that would not be true. Second, Muslims are a beautiful, peace-loving people. It is unfortunate that there are a very few that depart from their religion and act violently. They are not acting as Muslims, but as criminals. So naming ‘Islam’ would be erroneous and unproductive.”

Bear: “You have often promoted the cause of refugees. But what do you say to people in Europe who host these refugees and repaid with violence and chaos. Sweden now has the second highest rape rate in the world.”

Pope Francis: “This is unfortunate, but you are looking only at the negative. People from other countries, other religions and cultures, bring many good things, as well. But in any event, how can the people of a country say ‘this is my country?’ Did God draw borders? Maybe a big red line on the ground somewhere? No. There is one planet. We are all citizens on one world. We must not push people away, but learn to live with each other.”

Bear: “If these other countries and cultures are so wonderful, why are people fleeing them?”

Pope Francis: [laughs] “See, the Bear who sets a trap for the man! It is fine. I like you, Mr. Bear. You would make a good Jesuit. But about your question. There are many reasons that are too complicated to go into now. The important thing is to welcome them, regardless of why they come. This is the Christian religion.”

Bear: “This Halloween, you will travel to Sweden to celebrate the Reformation with Lutherans. What benefits can you name that resulted from the Reformation?”

Pope Francis: “Certain abuses within the Church were eliminated. It eventually brought a new appreciation for Holy Scripture. It sparked the Counter-Reformation which clarified Church doctrine. It resulted in the birth of Protestantism, which provided a model for the Church in many ways, and inspired Catholics to look at things in different ways.”

Bear: “Some would say it plunged Christendom into a ruinous war, fractured the Body of Christ into tens of thousands of sects, and that ‘looking at things in different ways,’ has led to endless novelties starting with Vatican II. Indeed, the ‘model’ of Protestantism can be seen in the Vatican II liturgy, can it not?”

Pope Francis: “War is always unfortunate, but you cannot blame it on the Reformation. Nations come into conflict, and there is blame enough for all. As for sects, each one reflects its own truth of the Christian faith, and the Body of Christ cannot be fractured. Never. God is present in each community of faith, and we trust him to make good on their deficiencies even as he makes good on ours. Christianity teaches humility. Do you suppose Catholics are perfect? Or have always expressed the truth? What you call ‘novelties,’ I would call growth. Our God is a God of surprises, but some act like children who are afraid of surprises, who cry for their beads and holy cards. Catholics must open their eyes and look around them. I promise they will find Christ. I urge your readers to try it.”

Marriage Issues

Bear: “Many Catholics are waiting for the final decision on issues discussed in the Synod on the Family with trepidation. What can you tell us?”

Pope: “Catholics should not fear their Church, or be afraid of change. We are not supposed to be a 16th century museum. If you want museums, come to Rome! Perhaps you will come, Mr. Bear, as our guest! But do not come to the Catholic Church to find a museum! Each era, the Church meets the people where they are. Some people seem to forget that the purpose of the Church is not to say ‘no,’ but to say ‘yes.’ We want to bring people into the Church, or back into the Church. We want them to feel accepted, loved, not like criminals whom we barely tolerate. We want to give people the sacraments. This is love. This is mercy. I do not understand why anyone would fear these things.”

Cardinal Kasper: “Mr. Bear, this is Cardinal Kasper. You need to wake up. I’ve got your oatmeal for you.”

Cardinal Marx: “Und this is Cardinal Marx. Jah. Bavarian style.”

Bear: “What? Where’s Pope Francis?”

And then the Bear woke up to see his mate with a cup of coffee and a steaming bowl of oatmeal with raisins, his very favorite breakfast after pancakes, and, well, waffles are good, too, and fresh-egg omelettes with bacon (not crisp), and toast and orange marmalade… where was the Bear… Oh. His interview with Pope Francis had apparently been an especially vivid dream. Perhaps the “Pope’s” answers represented what the Bear’s subconscious fears he might truly believe.

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