By Lydia O’Kane
Ahead of the Papal Journey, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, addressed a number of key issues including, clerical sexual abuse in Ireland and elsewhere, the importance of the family in society today and the contribution of Christian families in the life of the Church.
Below find the transcript of the interview.
Cardinal Parolin, Pope Francis is coming to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. This theme is increasingly central to his Pontificate. What can we expect even after the Synods and Amoris Laetitia?
I think that the Holy Father will first of all reaffirm the Gospel of the family, which was the theme of the Synod of the Bishops – the families. The Gospel of the families means to focus and to underline the essential place of the family in society and in the Church today. And then to support the mission of the family in today’s world, a mission of love, a mission of fidelity, a mission of educating and generating lives. But I am sure that the same presence of the Holy Father will be this encouragement for families in their efforts to strive for bringing love in this world and to really help individuals and societies to reach that happiness that everybody is looking for.
What is, in your opinion, the greatest contribution that Christian families can give to the Church today and also to those who don’t have a personal experience of the faith?
I think that, as I was saying before, it is important to give witness to the joy of the Gospel and this is especially the possibility and the capacity to reach out to others in love, that is what is bringing happiness in this world - in front of a world which experiences many times, and it is a great problem today - loneliness and isolation. Then the family has the mission and the role to bring this sense of communion and this sense of love, this sense of respect for the life of the individual and of the community. I think that is the essential contribution which can be brought to the world by the family and by Christian families.
Delicate topics such as migration, family crises and the reception of homosexual persons will also be addressed at the Dublin Meeting. What does the Church have to say today to those who do not share its values and its vision of the world?
Yes, of course, the Church has to continue to propose the truth and the beauty of the Gospel on the family with, respect, with great attention; but it has to continue to do so and especially to give example. I think that it is important then to accompany people in their situation as the Pope said since the beginning of his pontificate that the Church is a field hospital. We have the chance to take care of people, to accompany them, especially starting from listening to them and to establish a dialogue with them.
The Pope has repeatedly asked that families be supported by institutions with adequate policies. Where do we need to start?
It is not easy to say. We have to start better, I think that the Pope said many times we have to start from ourselves, from our families. Then we have to really take care of the preparation of the sacrament of marriage, of the young people and then to accompany them, to accompany the family - especially when they find difficult tensions and conflicts. And of course this is a sign of the love of Jesus Christ. The Pope said that the Church has done very, very much in that sense, but that there is still more space to fill and then to operate in that direction. I think that the second part is that the Church, with its prophetic voice, should remind also the politicians, the people operating in politics, the institution, that they have a duty to support the family and to meet their expectations and their needs.
Ireland has changed a lot since the last trip of a Pope, St John Paul II in 1979. It has been marked by terrible stories of sexual abuse by clergy and others. The country has also been shocked by the recent Pennsylvania report. What are your words to the Irish people?
It is not easy to say, because this scandal of clerical sexual abuse has really affected, and continues to affect us, everybody and it has a devastating effect on the life and on the witness that the Church is going to give to the world. As Pope Francis reminded us many times, and he continues to do so, that our first duty is to take care of the people who have been affected - the victims of this tragic phenomenon. I think that the Church in Ireland has recognized its failures and at the same time it has provided measures to prevent in the future what happened in the past. And then, on this framework, attention to the victims, recognition and repentance for what was committed in the past. And in this effort to prevent such things from happening again, I think that we have to see the journey of the Holy Father as a journey of hope, to help the Church in Ireland and the family in general, just to take a journey with more hope that we can really change and we can build a society in which the children and the vulnerable person are secure, are sure and really the Church can play its role according to the Gospel.