Upon returning from his trip to Mongolia and according to a firmly established tradition, the Pope gave a press conference to the journalists present on the plane and addressed various subjects. According to the unofficial full transcript provided by Vatican News, he spoke in particular about the issue of relations with China, his travels, and the synod.
To a question about China, the Pope replied that he has “great admiration for the Chinese people” and that, “there is a commission working for the appointment of bishops – Chinese government and the Vatican. The commission chaired by Cardinal Parolin is performing this task well.”
His statement tries to be persuasive: “I believe that we must progress on the religious level to understand each other better and so that Chinese citizens do not think that the Church does not accept their culture and their values and that it depends of another foreign power.…I have a lot of respect for the Chinese people.”
Another question concerns a possible trip to Vietnam, and other trips planned by Francis. As for Vietnam, Francis replied: “If I don’t go [to Vietnam], I’m sure that [a future pope] John XXIV will go.” And as for the other trips: “There is Marseille and the possibility of visiting a small country in Europe. …To tell the truth, travel is not as easy for me as it was in the beginning.”
The next question was about Russia in reference to the Pope's words about the “great Mother Russia” having started a controversy. Francis defended himself by recalling that he had encouraged young Russians to “take charge” of their heritage. He affirms that “in speaking of the great Russia” it was a question of culture and not of geography, and that he was thinking “not of imperialism” which is an ideology.
As for the synod, the Pope made a point of emphasizing that he did not invent synodality: It “is not a fashion, it is an old thing, the Eastern Church has always had it.” (But the one promoted by Francis has nothing to do with that of the Eastern Church, as a Greek-Catholic bishop pointed out recently.)
The Pope reaffirms that “the Synod is not a parliament,” nor a television broadcast. But that there will be a secret of the event: journalists will not be admitted to the assembly and to the general sessions “there is a department headed by Paolo Ruffini,” prefect of the dicastery for communication, who will issue press releases and will give news every day.
Finally, to a question on the distrust of certain circles vis-à-vis the Synod, he speaks of ideology. “Always, when you want to detach the path of communion in the Church, what always detaches is ideology. … They defend a doctrine in quotation marks, which is a doctrine like distilled water, tastes like nothing and is not the true Catholic doctrine that is in the Creed.”