By Philip Pullella and Giulia Segreti
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The dumping of plastic in waterways is “criminal” and must stop if humanity is to save the planet for future generations, Pope Francis said in a television interview on Sunday.
In the hour-long interview on Channel 3 of the state-run RAI TV, Francis also reiterated some of the key themes of his pontificate, condemning excessive spending on armaments, defending the rights of migrants and condemning ideological rigidity. conservatives in the Church.
Francis, who has made environmental advocacy a cornerstone of his pontificate, recounted how Italian fishermen came to him one year and told him they had found several tons of plastic in the Adriatic Sea. The next time he saw them, they said they had found twice as many and took it upon themselves to help clear some of them.
“Throwing plastic into the sea is criminal. It kills biodiversity, it kills the land, it kills everything,” he said.
“Dealing with creation is an education (a process) in which we must engage,” he said, quoting a song by Brazilian singer Roberto Carlos in which a boy asks his father why “the river does not sing more” and the father replies that “we finished it”.
Asked to elaborate on his musical tastes, Francis, who made a surprise visit to a record store in Rome last month, said he especially likes classical music but also tango.
When asked if he had danced the tango when he was young in his native Argentina, Francis, 85, replied “A porteño who does not dance tango is not a porteño”. Porteño is the Spanish name of a resident of Buenos Aires, his hometown.
In response to a question about the war, Francis said: “Think about it. If we stopped making weapons for a year, we could feed and educate the whole world. We have become accustomed to wars. It’s harsh but it’s the truth. “
Francis did not specify the source of the statistics he cited, but in the past he has called for a total ban on nuclear weapons, saying even their mere possession for deterrence is immoral.
He also called for arms spending to be diverted to help those most in need and for research to prevent future pandemics.
Francis again called on the European Union to distribute migrants arriving in Italy and Spain from North Africa across all EU countries so as not to exert excessive social pressure on a few countries.
The interview with the host of the popular Sunday program Che Tempo Che Fa (What’s the weather like?) was carried out via a satellite link from the RAI studios in Milan with the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican where the pope lives .
Francis avoided the spacious but secluded papal apartments in the Vatican Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors. He lives in a modest suite in Santa Marta, where he usually eats in the common room and takes the elevator by himself.
Francis said he chose to live there because he was “not a saint” like his predecessors and needed to be around people as much as possible. He said he had “few but real” friends.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)