Pope Francis has ruled out the possibility of female cardinals in an exclusive interview with the Italian daily newspaper, La Stampa.
Speaking to the Vatican expert, Andrea Tornielli, in response to rumours earlier this year that Pope Francis was going to appoint a female cardinal, the Pope said: “I don’t know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued not ‘clericalised’. Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.”
The interviewer also asked Pope Francis about what precisely he was referring to in the section of his recent apostolic exhortation, Evangelium Gaudi, in which he called for prudent and bold pastoral choices regarding the sacraments.
Pope Francis said: “When I speak of prudence I do not think of it in terms of an attitude that paralyses but as the virtue of a leader. Prudence is a virtue of government. So is boldness. One must govern with boldness and prudence. I spoke about baptism and communion as spiritual food that helps one to go on; it is to be considered a remedy not a prize. Some immediately thought about the sacraments for remarried divorcees, but I did not refer to any specific cases; I simply wanted to point out a principle. We must try to facilitate people’s faith, rather than control it. Last year in Argentina I condemned the attitude of some priests who did not baptise the children of unmarried mothers. This is a sick mentality.”
He added: “The exclusion of divorced people who contract a second marriage from communion is not a sanction. It is important to remember this. But I didn’t talk about this in the Exhortation.”
Pope Francis described “Christmas as God’s meeting with his people” when asked what it meant to him. He said: “It is the encounter Jesus. God has always sought out his people, led them, looked after them and promised to be always be close to them. The Book of Deuteronomy says that God walks with us; he takes us by the hand like a father does with his child. This is a beautiful thing. Christmas is God’s meeting with his people. It is also a consolation, a mystery of consolation. Many times after the midnight mass I have spent an hour or so alone in the chapel before celebrating the dawn mass. I experienced a profound feeling of consolation and peace. I remember one night of prayer after a mass in the Astalli residence for refugees in Rome, it was Christmas 1974 I think. For me Christmas has always been about this; contemplating the visit of God to his people.”
Pope Francis said that he was not offended when people described him as a Marxist following his criticisms of capitalism. He said: “The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”