Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
Gemmingen: The issue of the family. A month ago you were in Valencia for the World Meeting of Families. Anyone who was listening carefully, as we tried to do at Radio Vatican, noticed how you never mentioned the words "homosexual marriage," you never spoke about abortion, or about contraception. Careful observers thought that was very interesting. Clearly your idea is to go around the world preaching the faith rather than as an "apostle of morality." What are your comments?
Obviously, yes. Actually I should say I had only two opportunities to speak for 20 minutes. And when you have so little time you can't say everything you want to say about "no." Firstly you have to know what we really want, right? Christianity, Catholicism, isn't a collection of prohibitions: it's a positive option. It's very important that we look at it again because this idea has almost completely disappeared today.
We've heard so much about what is not allowed that now it's time to say: we have a positive idea to offer, that man and woman are made for each other, that the scale of sexuality, eros, agape, indicates the level of love and it's in this way that marriage develops, first of all, as a joyful and blessing-filled encounter between a man and a woman, and then the family, that guarantees continuity among generations and through which generations are reconciled to each other and even cultures can meet. So, firstly it's important to stress what we want. Secondly, we can also see why we don't want something. I believe we
need to see and reflect on the fact that it's not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: all cultures know this. As far as abortion is concerned, it's part of the fifth, not the sixth, commandment: "Thou shalt not kill!" We have to presume this is obvious and always stress that the human person begins in the mother's womb and remains a human person until his or her last breath. The human person must always be respected as a human person. But all this is clearer if you say it first in a positive way.
Gemmingen: Let's talk about your travels. You live in the Vatican and maybe it hurts you to be far from people and separated from the world, even in the beautiful surroundings of Castelgandolfo. You'll be turning 80 soon. Do you think that, with God's grace, you'll be able to make many more trips? Do you have any idea of where you'd like to go? To the Holy Land, or Brazil? Do you know already?
To tell the truth I'm not that lonely. Of course there are, you may say, the walls that make it more difficult to get in, but there's also a "pontifical family," lots of visitors every day, especially when I'm in Rome. The bishops come and other people, there are state visits. There are also personalities who want to talk to me personally, and not just about political issues. In this sense there are all kinds of encounters that, thank God, I have continually. And it's also important that the seat of the successor of Peter be a place of encounter, don't you think? From the time of John XXIII onwards, the pendulum began to swing in the other direction too: the popes started going out to visit others. I have to say that I've never felt strong enough to plan many long trips. But where such a trip allows me to communicate a message or where, shall I say, it's in response to a sincere request, I'd like to go -- in the "measure" that's possible for me. Some are already planned: next year there's the meeting of CELAM, the Latin American Episcopal Council, in Brazil, and I think that being there is an important step in the context of what Latin America is living so intensely, to strengthen the hope that's so alive in that part of the world. Then I'd like to visit the Holy Land, and I hope to visit it in a time of peace. For the rest, we'll see what Providence has in store for me.