Rome – In his latest surprise media interview, this one with a Spanish language outlet that appeared at the same time he’s in Lisbon celebrating World Youth Day, Pope Francis said he knows he represents “a stone in the shoe” for many critics, but said he remains determined to unmask what he called “prophets of confusion.”

The pope told Vida Nueva that he does not feel the time is ripe for a Third Vatican Council, in part because “Vatican II still has not been implemented,” and condemned ideological movements in the Church which “dress up in a restorationist air, with a lot of apparent mystique, but also a lot of corruption.”

Francis acknowledged that his reform efforts to date in the Church have revealed “a certain impotence,” in that there’s only so far “over the limit” it’s possible to go, and admitted that “I have not yet dared to put an end to the culture of a [royal] court in the Curia.”

Referring to criticism he’s received for gestures such as regularly meeting transgender persons at his Wednesday audience, Francis cited the example of Jesus in the Gospels, who spent a large amount of time in dialogue with people who weren’t necessarily his followers.

“The first time they came and saw me, they left crying, saying I had given them a hand, a kiss, as if I had done something exceptional for them,” he said. “But they are children of God! He still loves you just the way you are. Jesus teaches us not to set limits.”

On international affairs, Francis said he is a determined foe of imperialism in all forms, especially in Latin America.

“Imperialism is very strong, and America is the victim of empires of all kinds,” the pope said, without citing any specific empire, and said that the answer is to focus on the people as “protagonists of their own destiny,” though not on populism.

“I speak badly of any empire, of whatever sort,” the pope said. “For this reason, I know that I am a stone in the shoe for more than one when I report these situations, so they have to somehow drive away the pain of the stone.”

With regard to World Youth Day, the pope said that any pastoral approach driven by ideology, “of the left, the right or the center … is sick from the beginning, and hurts the young.”

“Right now, groups linked in some way to right-wing ideologies are perhaps the most dangerous,” Francis said.

“I fear intellectual youth groups, those who summon young people to reflect and then they fill them with weird ideas,” he said, adding that when it comes to future priests, “we need normal seminarians, with their problems, who play soccer, who don’t go to the neighborhoods to dogmatize.”

On other fronts, Francis said:

  • He’s currently planning a trip to Kosovo, and that his long-awaited homecoming visit to Argentina is “on the schedule.”
  • His special envoy on the Ukraine crisis, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, is set to travel to Beijing after visiting Kiev, Moscow and Washington.
  • He’s considering appointing a permanent representative to Ukraine and Russia, in part to oversee humanitarian efforts such as returning children who’ve been removed from eastern Ukraine to their families.
  • Reiterating his concern for migrants, Francis said, “Day after day, we see how human beings drown in the sea, how they die of thirst and hunger in drifting boats… It is inhuman!”
  • On artificial intelligence, the pope said that “a homily written by the GPT Chat has not passed through the heart of anyone, and a pastor who does not put his heart [into it] … does not transmit anything.”

The full text of the interview, in Spanish and broken into various sections, can be found on the Vida Nueva site:

Founded in Spain in 1958, Vida Nueva is a weekly print publication that also operates an active daily web site offering news and commentary on Catholic affairs. The platform’s editorial line is seen as more or less centrist.