AP

The AP Interview takeaways: Pope decries expanding gun use

Jan 24, 2023, 9:22 AM | Updated: Jan 25, 2023, 2:09 pm

FILE - A woman ties balloons to a cross in a makeshift memorial in the parking lot of a Walmart in ...

FILE - A woman ties balloons to a cross in a makeshift memorial in the parking lot of a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, for the six people killed at this Walmart when a manager opened fire with a handgun before an employee meeting. In an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Pope Francis said that the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he added. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis lamented that the use of guns by civilians to defend themselves is becoming a “habit.”

In an interview on Tuesday with The Associated Press, the pontiff, who has frequently criticized the arms industry, was asked about the large number of guns in civilian hands and frequent massacres in the United States. Francis expressed concern about how recourse to guns has become “habit.”

“I say when you have to defend yourself, all that’s left is to have the elements to defend yourself. Another thing is how that need to defend oneself lengthens, lengthens, and becomes a habit,” Francis said. “Instead of making the effort to help us live, we make the effort to help us kill.”

Francis has denounced the arms industry as trafficking in death. Francis said he wants to draw attention to the problem by saying: “Please, let’s say something that will stop this.”

The AP asked the question about the proliferation of guns among civilians after recent days saw several shootings, including in California.

Here are some other key takeaways from the interview.

ON ‘PATIENCE’ WITH CHINA

Saying “we must walk patiently in China,” Pope Francis views continued dialogue with Beijing as the guiding principle in his efforts to safeguard his flock, who are a small minority in the Asian nation.

The AP asked what comes next in the diplomatic overtures between the countries.

“We are taking steps,” Francis replied. “Each case (of a bishop’s nomination) is looked at with a magnifying lens.” The pontiff added that “that’s the main thing, the dialogue doesn’t break.”

As for Chinese authorities, “sometimes they are a little closed, sometimes not,” Francis said.

The pope sidestepped a question about how the Vatican’s relationship with Taiwan affects the dialogue. The Holy See is one of the few states to maintain formal ties with Taiwan instead of with China.

Francis has been criticized by more conservative factions of the Catholic Church for a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China, given how that country’s Communist authorities have at times imprisoned priests. Among his harshest critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.

In the interview, Francis called Zen, who is 91, a “charming old man,” and a “tender soul.” He recounted how, when the cardinal came to Rome this month for the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI, the pontiff invited him to the Vatican hotel where Francis lives. In front of the pope’s private study is a statue depicting Our Lady of Sheshan. Francis said when the cardinal saw it, “he began to cry, like a child.”

Zen was arrested last year after he fell afoul of Hong Kong authorities over his participation in a now-silenced democracy movement.

___

ON HOMOSEXUALITY

Pope Francis has stepped up his criticism of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. He called laws criminalizing homosexuals unjust but reiterated Catholic Church teaching that homosexual activity is sinful.

Bantering with himself, Francis articulated the position: “It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.”

___

ON PAPAL HEALTH AND RETIREMENT

The 86-year-old pontiff was asked to assess his health.

“I’m in good health. For my age, I’m normal. I might die tomorrow, but I am under control. I always ask for the grace the Lord will give me a sense of humor,” he said.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. Following Benedict’s death, Francis was also asked about the need for rules for any future retirement.

“After some more experience … then it could be more regularized or regulated,” he said. “But for the moment it hasn’t occurred to me.”

___

ON SEX ABUSE CRISIS

The pope suggested that East Timor’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning independence hero was indeed allowed to retire early rather than face prosecution or punishment following sex abuse allegations.

Francis also denied he had a role in deciding the case of a famous Jesuit artist whose seemingly preferential treatment cast doubt on the Vatican’s commitment to cracking down on abuse.

He acknowledged the Catholic Church still had a long way to go to deal with the problem.

___

ON GERMAN CHURCH REFORM EFFORT

The pontiff warned there’s a risk that a reform process in the German Catholic Church over calls for married priests and other possible liberalizing moves might become harmfully “ideological.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: Ambulances are seen at the airport where a London-Singapore flight that encountered severe t...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Man dies after turbulence; Iran funerals; Israel media law

A Singapore Airlines flight hit severe turbulence over the Indian Ocean and descended 6,000 feet in a span of about three minutes.

2 days ago

Image: Bruce Nordstrom, left, and Jeannie Nordstrom attend the Nordstrom NYC Flagship Opening Party...

Associated Press

Bruce Nordstrom, who helped grow family-led department store chain, dies at 90

Bruce Nordstrom, a retail executive who helped expand his family's Pacific Northwest chain into an upscale national brand, has died.

3 days ago

Image:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime min...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Netanyahu arrest warrant; Assange can appeal; UK blood scandal

The International Criminal Court said it is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu.

3 days ago

Image: In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Ebrahim Raisi attends a m...

Associated Press

Iran president and others found dead at helicopter crash site, state media says

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday.

3 days ago

Photo: Shawna Williams, owner of Free Range Cycles, poses outside her shop on May 6, 2024, in Seatt...

Mae Anderson, The Associated Press

Bike shops boomed early in the pandemic. It’s been a bumpy ride for most ever since

For the nation's bicycle shops, the past few years have probably felt like the business version of the Tour de France, with numerous twists and turns testing their endurance.

4 days ago

Image: A person wears a T-shirt with the names of Kristin Smith, Charity Lynn Perry, Joanna Speaks,...

Associated Press

Man probed in deaths of women in northwest Oregon indicted in 3 killings

A man who has been under investigation in the deaths of four women whose bodies were found across northwest Oregon has been indicted.

4 days ago

The AP Interview takeaways: Pope decries expanding gun use