The interview was conducted by Gian Marco Chiocci, who admitted feeling a bit of emotion about talking with the Holy Father: “To meet with a Pope is not an everyday thing; it elicits rare, intense and very strong emotions even if the master of the house does his utmost to put the guest not only at ease but — and it’s truly paradoxical — on the same plane.”
In the interview, the Pope addressed a number of topics, including corruption in the Church, the coronavirus, and his relationship with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
On corruption: “Unfortunately, corruption is a cyclical story that is repeated; then someone comes that cleans and puts in order, but then it begins again in the hope that another will come to put an end to this degeneration…The Church is and remains strong, but the subject of corruption is a profound problem that is lost in the centuries.”
On coronavirus: “They are days of great uncertainty, I pray a lot, I am so, so, so close to those that are suffering; I am in prayer with those helping people that are suffering for reasons of health but not only those.”
On Benedict: “Benedict is for me a father and brother, I write to him by letter ‘filially and fraternally.’ I often go to see him up there (with his finger he indicates the direction of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, which, in fact, is behind Saint Peter’s) and if recently I’ve seen him somewhat less it’s only because I don’t want to tire him. The relationship is truly good, very good, we agree on the things to be done. Benedict is a good man, he is holiness personified.”
The Pope also spoke of the advice he received from a woman shortly after he learned that Pope John Paul II had died: “The Mass having ended, a very poor woman approached me and asked me information on how a Pope is elected, I told her about the white smoke, the Cardinals, the Conclave, to which she interrupted me and said: listen, Bergoglio, when you become Pope the first thing you must do is buy a puppy. I answered that I would hardly become so, and if I did, why should I get a dog. Because every time you are about to eat — was her answer — give a small piece first to the dog; if he’s ok, then continue to eat.”
The writer also asked the Pope if he has fear. According to the report, the Holy Father pondered that question a long time before answering:
“I don’t fear consequences against me, I don’t fear anything. I act in the name and on behalf of our Lord. Am I irresponsible? Lacking somewhat in prudence? I wouldn’t know what to say; instinct and the Holy Spirit guide me; I am guided by the love of my wonderful people who follow Jesus Christ. And then I pray; I pray a lot, in this difficult moment all of us should pray a lot, given what is happening in the world.”