Since everybody is quoting from the Holy Father’s German Television interview.
Lanz: My question is linked to that of Father von Gemmingen. Throughout the world believers are waiting for the Catholic Church to answer the most urgent global problems, like AIDS and overpopulation. Why does the Catholic Church pay so much attention to moral issues rather than suggesting concrete solutions to these problems that are so crucial to humanity, in Africa, for example?
So that’s the problem: do we really pay so much attention to moral issues? I think — I am more and more convinced after my conversations with the African bishops — that the basic question, if we want to move ahead in this field, is about education, formation. Progress becomes true progress only if it serves the human person and if the human person grows: not only in terms of his or her technical power, but also in his or her moral awareness. I believe that the real problem of our historical moment lies in the imbalance between the incredibly fast growth of our technical power and that of our moral capacity, which has not grown in proportion. That’s why the formation of the human person is the true recipe, the key to it all, I would say, and this is what the Church proposes. Briefly speaking, this formation has a dual dimension: of course we have to learn, acquire knowledge, ability, know-how, as they say. In this sense Europe, and in the last decades America, have done a lot, and that’s important. But if we only teach know-how, if we only teach how to build and to use machines, and how to use contraceptives, then we shouldn’t be surprised when we find ourselves facing wars and AIDS epidemics. Because we need two dimensions: simultaneously we need the formation of the heart, if I can express myself in this way, with which the human person acquires points of reference and learns how to use the techniques correctly. And that’s what we try to do. Throughout Africa and in many countries in Asia, we have a vast network of every level of school where people can learn, form a true conscience and acquire professional ability which gives them autonomy and freedom. But in these schools we try to communicate more than know-how, rather to form human beings capable of reconciliation, who know that we must build and not destroy and who have the necessary references to be able to live together. In much of Africa, relations between Christians and Muslims are exemplary. The bishops have formed common commissions together with the Muslims to try and create peace in situations of conflict. This schools network, dedicated to human learning and formation, is very important. It’s completed by a network of hospitals and assistance centers that reach even the most remote villages. In many areas, following the destruction of war, the Church is the only structure that remains intact. This is a fact! We offer treatment, treatment to AIDS victims too, and we offer education, helping to establish good relationships with others. So I think we should correct that image that sees the Church as spreading severe "no’s." We work a lot in Africa so that the various dimensions of formation can be integrated and so that it becomes possible to overcome violence and epidemics, that includes malaria and tuberculosis as well.
Just when I think I couldn’t love the Holy Father even more he goes on to quote Chesterton.
Fuchs: Stories with humor in them too? In 1989 in Munich you were given the Karl Valentin Award. What role does humor play in the life of a pope?
I’m not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it’s very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I’d also say it’s necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn’t think we were so important.