RELIGION
12/10/2014 10:57 am ET Updated Dec 10, 2014

Our Favorite Quotes From Pope Francis' Interview With Argentina's La Nacion

ALBERTO PIZZOLI via Getty Images

Pope Francis sat down with Argentina’s La Nacion. He spoke with the paper’s Elisabetta Pique about the typical hot-button topics -- gay marriage, divorce, and the recent Synod of Bishops.

But he also revealed that he’s a big fan of Mercedes Sosa, a Grammy Award-winning Latin American folk singer.

Here are some interesting things we learned from the Pope’s interview that you may have missed:

Being The Leader Of The World’s Catholics Is A 24/7 Job . . . With No Time To Reminisce
The Pope’s had a busy 2014 -- with trips to the Holy Land, South Korea, Turkey, as well the meeting of the Extraordinary Synod. His 2015 may be just as busy. The Pope told Pique that he’s planning to visit Africa for the first time next year, as well as at least three Latin American countries. When the journalist asked him to reflect on 2014 and pick out his favorite moment, Francis seemed a bit dumbfounded by the question.

I wouldn’t know. Every moment has something good and something not quite as good, isn’t that so? (silence). For instance, the meeting with the grandparents, the elderly, there was amazing beauty in that . . . I enjoyed that occasion very much, but that doesn’t make it the best because I actually enjoyed them all. I really don’t know, I wouldn’t know what to say, I never thought of that.

Thinking About Using The Pope As A Photo Prop? Think Again
Argentina’s next presidential election is slated for October 2015. Tensions are high in the country, according to Reuters, as the public reacts to 40 percent inflation and other economic woes. To make sure it doesn't seem like he's picking sides, Pope Francis announced that he won’t be giving private audiences to Argentine politicians. They’ll have to wait for the end of his general Wednesday audience at St. Peter’s Square, like the rest of the us.

He Hasn’t Forgotten His Latin American Roots
On December 12, the Pope will celebrate the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas. He’ll say mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and is looking forward to a special performance of the Misa Criolla or “Creole Mass,” which was composed by Argentine pianist Ariel Ramirez. The Washington Post has called "Misa Criolla" a "reverent carnival."

When I heard Misa Criolla for the first time I was a student, I think I was studying theology at that time, I can´t remember well. I really liked it! I enjoyed ´Lamb of God', which is magnificent. I will never forget that I heard Mercedes Sosa singing it.

Here’s an example of the kind of music Francis jams to.

He’s Cool With Having a Low-Key Birthday Party
Pope Francis will be turning 78 on December 17. It’s certainly a milestone, but for Francis, it’s just another day, just another general audience.

It´s the same as with the days when there is no mass in the chapel because it´s Wednesday, the day of the general audience. That day we will all have lunch together, with all the staff. It will be just another day to me, pretty much like any other one.

He Was Planning To Retire As An Archbishop When The Pope Thing Happened
Francis said that he was “in the process of retiring” when he traveled to the Vatican in 2013 to help select the next pope. He was planning to create a short list of three potential candidates who would take over his job as archbishop of Buenos Aires, so that he could retreat from public life -- perhaps hear a confession or two.

When I came here I had to start all over again, all this was new. From the start I said to myself: "Jorge, don´t change, just keep on being yourself, because to change at your age would be to make a fool of yourself". That´s why I´ve always kept on doing what I used to do in Buenos Aires. Perhaps even making my old mistakes. But I prefer it like this, to be myself.

More From Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Gay marriage was never on the agenda at the recent Synod of Bishops on the Family and the subject “did not cross our minds,” Pope Francis said in a new headline-grabbing interview.

Keeping to a format that has become a favorite for this pope, Francis used a high-profile interview to shed light on his thinking, and Vatican policies, on a number of hot-button social issues.

Pope Francis holds his pectoral cross as he leads his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Nov. 12, 2014. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service
This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

In an interview published Sunday (Dec. 7), Francis told the Argentine daily, La Nacion, that the Catholic Church must help parents support their gay children. At the same time, he maintained that allowing, condoning or even adapting to same-sex marriage was still not on the church’s agenda.

This was one of several controversial issues he broached in the interview with papal biographer Elisabetta Pique:

GAY MARRIAGE

“Nobody mentioned homosexual marriage at the synod; it did not cross our minds,” he said. “What we did talk about was how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation.”

“The synod addressed the family and homosexuals in relation to their families. … We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter. That’s what the synod addressed.”

DIVORCE, REMARRIAGE AND COMMUNION

Francis stressed that the challenge for the Catholic Church is making sure that Catholics who have been divorced and remarried without getting an annulment feel they are included, despite continuing debate over barring such couples from Communion.

“In the case of divorcees who have remarried, we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open?” the pope said. “This was a pastoral concern: Will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration.”

In a separate recent interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allegemeine, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also stressed that divorcees should “not be excluded from the life of the church” and suggested they could be godfathers or godmothers at baptisms.

CARDINAL BURKE’S DEMOTION

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, leaves the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service
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Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, leaves the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service
This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Sunday’s interview was the first time that Francis has spoken publicly about his decision to remove the conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke from his position as head of the Vatican’s highest appeals court and appoint him patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta. Widely seen as a demotion, the move removed one of Francis’ main opponents from the Vatican.

After the synod, Burke raised eyebrows around the church, saying in an interview that the church under Francis was like a “ship without a rudder.”

“We needed a smart American who would know how to get around and I thought of him for that position. I suggested this to him long before the synod. I said to him ‘This will take place after the synod because I want you to participate in the synod’ as the head of a Vatican department.

“He thanked me in very good terms and accepted my offer; I even think he liked it. Because he is a man that gets around a lot, he does a lot of traveling and would surely be busy there. It is therefore not true that I removed him because of how he had behaved in the synod.”

Francis also played down Burke’s “ship without a rudder” broadside: “Those expressions strike me as odd,” the pope said. “I am not aware of anybody using them. The media quote them. However, until I can ask the people involved ‘Have you said this?’ I will have brotherly doubts.”

DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH

After signaling a softer approach to LGBT issues in the church, Catholic bishops ended the synod by celebrating the “love of a man and a woman” but ignored hot-button issues like homosexuality and cohabitation. Language about “welcoming homosexual persons” was not part of the final report approved by the bishops.

Francis, however, is not concerned.

“Certain resistance has surfaced; I think it´s a good sign when things are discussed openly and not secretly if people don’t agree,” he said. “It’s good to discuss things openly; it’s healthy.”

For his part, Benedict denied reports that he had tried to meddle in the synod. “A total absurdity,” he said. Benedict said he had “excellent relations” with the current pope, and said “I try to stay as quiet as possible. It is clear who the true pope is.”

HEALTH & RETIREMENT

Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis at the conclusion of a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22. Pope Benedict's presence at the ceremony marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public liturgy. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service
Show caption

Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis at the conclusion of a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22. Pope Benedict’s presence at the ceremony marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public liturgy. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service
This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Francis has not ruled out the possibility of following in Benedict’s footsteps and retiring from the papacy if he can no longer handle the demands of the job. As his 78th birthday approaches on Dec. 17, he conceded that he’s no longer a young man.

“I do have some aches and pains, and at my age ailments don’t go unnoticed. But I am in God’s hands; up to now I have been able to work steadily.”

In his interview, Benedict told the German daily he was “too weak and tired” to deal with the challenges and internal backbiting at the Vatican that ultimately led to his shocking resignation in February 2013.

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