Pope Francis joined CBS correspondent Norah O’Donnell for an episode of 60 Minutes on Sunday, in which he went over some of his usual topics (his anti-surrogacy stance, blessing homosexuals even if they are in same-sex unions, his “humanitarian” stance on migrants) as well as some less frequently visited issues, such as Israel and Palestine, globalization, and conservatism in the church. Perhaps most significantly, Francis condemned Texas’ criticisms of Catholic charities at the US southern border and the attorney general’s attempt to close them, saying “the migrant has to be received.”

“I grew up in Texas, and I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the state of Texas is attempting to shut down a Catholic charity on the border with Mexico that offers undocumented migrants humanitarian assistance,” O’Donnell said. “What do you think of that?”

“That is madness. Sheer madness. To close the border and leave them there, that is madness. The migrant has to be received,” Francis implored. “Thereafter you see how you are going to deal with him. Maybe you have to send him back, I don’t know, but each case ought to be considered humanely. Right?”

He added that “migrants sometimes suffer a lot” even though “migration is something that makes a country grow.

In early May, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton re-started his effort to shut down Catholic migration service center Annunciation House, saying it has committed “systemic criminal conduct in Texas,” aiding with illegal border crossings and hiding “illegally present aliens from law enforcement.”

“Any NGO facilitating the unlawful entry of illegal aliens into Texas is undermining the rule of law and potentially jeopardizing the safety and wellbeing of our citizens,” Paxton said. “All NGOs who are complicit in Joe Biden’s illegal immigration catastrophe and think they are above the law should consider themselves on notice,” he added.

O’Donnell attempted to imply that Francis has permitted the clergy to bless same sex unions. Francis was quick to correct on the specifics:

“No, what I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I cannot. The Lord made it that way. But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone. To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not? The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!”

But O’Donnell retorted that he had previously said, “”Who am I to judge?” “Homosexuality is not a crime.””

“No. It is a human fact,” Francis replied.

 

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“There are conservative bishops in the United States that oppose your new efforts to revisit teachings and traditions. How do you address their criticism?” O’Donnell asked.

“You used an adjective, “conservative.” That is, conservative is one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that,” Francis replied. “It is a suicidal attitude. Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”

But Francis is remarkably conservative on the subject of surrogacy. He has previously called it “despicable” and equivalent to turning the life of an unborn child “into an object of trafficking.” In this 60 Minutes interview, when O’Donnell argued that “for some women it is the only hope,” Francis replied that “the other hope it is adoption.” However, he ultimately conceded and said it depends on the case and what medical professionals say, but insisted one does not neglect “morality.”

Francis also bemoaned the “globalization of indifference,” or the spread of carelessness and cynicism on the part of the elite. “That is what happens when the heart hardens… and becomes indifferent. Please, we have to get our hearts to feel again. We cannot remain indifferent in the face of such human dramas. The globalization of indifference is a very ugly disease. Very ugly,” he said.

Insisting that “all ideology is bad,” Francis went on to describe antisemitism and anti-Palestinianism alike as “ideology” and thus contrary to morality. “What I can do is pray. I pray a lot for peace. And also, to suggest, “Please, stop. Negotiate,”” he explained.

O’Donnell noted that he has called for a ceasefire in many of his recent sermons. He also calls for a ceasefire in the war between Ukraine and Russia.

“People want to live. People forge ahead. And people are fundamentally good. We are all fundamentally good. Yes, there are some rogues and sinners, but the heart itself is good,” he concluded.


Shane Devine is a writer covering politics and business for VT and a regular guest on The Unusual Suspects. Follow Shane’s work here.

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