ON FINDING GOD IN EVERYONE: "God is in everyone's life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person's life."
ON FAITH AND DOUBT: "If one has the answers to all the questions — that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble."
WHAT ABOUT THE ROLE OF WOMEN? Pope Francis has previously called for greater study of the role of women in the church, although he has ruled out women's ordination. He went further in this interview, saying women must be involved in top decisionmaking matters. "The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised."
ON BEING ARGENTINA'S JESUIT LEADER: "I found myself provincial (the Jesuit leader) when I was still very young. I was only 36 years old. That was crazy. . . . It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems."
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO PRAY? "What I really prefer is adoration in the evening, even when I get distracted and think of other things, or even fall asleep praying. In the evening then, between seven and eight o'clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day."
WHAT ABOUT THE OLD LATIN MASS? Pope Benedict XVI opened up the Latin Mass for wider use among traditionalists who were opposed to the modern liturgy: "I think the decision of Pope Benedict was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the (Old Mass), its exploitation."
HOW GREAT ARE THOSE NUNS? Nuns working in hospitals took care of Francis when he lost most of one lung to an infection in his early 20s. "I am alive because of one of them. When I went through my lung disease at the hospital, the doctor gave me penicillin and streptomycin in certain doses. The sister who was on duty tripled my doses because she was daringly astute; she knew what to do because she was with ill people all day. The doctor, who really was a good one, lived in his laboratory; the sister lived on the frontier and was in dialogue with it every day."
WHO ARE HIS FAVORITE ARTISTS? "La Strada, by Fellini, is the movie that perhaps I loved the most. I identify with this movie, in which there is an implicit reference to St. Francis. I have read The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni, three times, and I have it now on my table because I want to read it again. Manzoni gave me so much. When I was a child, my grandmother taught me by heart the beginning of The Betrothed: 'That branch of Lake Como that turns off to the south between two unbroken chains of mountains . . .' Among the great painters, I admire Caravaggio; his paintings speak to me. But also Chagall, with his White Crucifixion. Among musicians I love Mozart, of course. The Et incarnatus est' from his Mass in C minor is matchless; it lifts you to God!"
Read the interview
Pope Francis' interview can be found at americamagazine.org/pope-interview.