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)

              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)
            
              FILE - The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) display weapons seized from ISIS in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan 12, 2023. 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/Hadi Mizban, file)
            
              FILE - Ettore Russo fires his pistol at an indoor shooting range during a qualification course to renew his Carry Concealed handgun permit at the Placer Sporting Club in Roseville, Calif., on Friday, July 1, 2022. 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/Rich Pedroncelli, file)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
            
              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)
            
              FILE - The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) display weapons seized from ISIS in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan 12, 2023. 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/Hadi Mizban, file)
            
              FILE - Ettore Russo fires his pistol at an indoor shooting range during a qualification course to renew his Carry Concealed handgun permit at the Placer Sporting Club in Roseville, Calif., on Friday, July 1, 2022. 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/Rich Pedroncelli, file)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              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)
            
              FILE - The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) display weapons seized from ISIS in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan 12, 2023. 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/Hadi Mizban, file)
            
              FILE - Ettore Russo fires his pistol at an indoor shooting range during a qualification course to renew his Carry Concealed handgun permit at the Placer Sporting Club in Roseville, Calif., on Friday, July 1, 2022. 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/Rich Pedroncelli, file)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
            
              FILE - Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong, arrives for the funeral mass of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. In an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Pope Francis said that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed." Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, file)
            
              FILE - People wearing face masks walk past the Wangfujing Church, a Catholic church in Beijing, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. In an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Pope Francis said that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed." Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, file)
            
              FILE - Chinese faithful attend Pope Francis weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. In an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Pope Francis said that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed." Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)
            
              FILE - Chinese faithful attend Pope Francis weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. In an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Pope Francis said that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed." Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)
            
              FILE - Cardinal Joseph Zen, a vocal opponent of attempts by Beijing and the Vatican at rapprochement, presides over a vigil Mass for Bishop Michael Yeung in Hong Kong, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. In an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Pope Francis said that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed." Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, file)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Francis said  that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed."  Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Francis said  that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed."  Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Francis said  that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed."  Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Francis said  that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed."  Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
            
              Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Francis said  that sometimes Chinese authorities are somewhat "closed."  Francis has been criticized by some segments of the Catholic Church over a 2018 agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. Among those critics is Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong. In the interview, Francis called Zen a "tender soul" and recalled spending time with him after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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.

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The AP Interview takeaways: Pope decries expanding gun use