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CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell sits down with Pope Francis for an exclusive interview

(CBS, KYMA/KECY) - Francis is the first pope from the Americas, the first of his name, and more than any other pope in recent memory, has dedicated his life and ministry to the poor, the peripheral, and the forgotten.

All while leading the Catholic Church on difficult, sometimes controversial issues that not everyone supports.

CBS News was granted a rare interview at the Vatican, and CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell spoke to him, in his native Spanish, through a translator, for more than an hour.

When the topics of both the Russia-Ukraine War and the Israel-Hamas War came up, Pope Francis expressed, "Please, warring countries, all of them, stop. Stop the war. You must find a way of negotiating for peace. Strive for peace. A negotiated peace is always better than an endless war."

Later in the interview, O'Donnell, a Texas native, asked the Pope his thoughts on the state of Texas attempting to shut down a Catholic charity on the Mexican border that offers undocumented migrants humanitarian assistance, to which the Pope said:

"That is madness. Sheer madness. To close the border and leave them there, that is madness. The migrant has to be received. Thereafter you see how you are going to deal with him. Maybe you have to send him back, I don't know, but each case ought to be considered humanely."

Talks then came to the Pope trying to reform the Catholic Church and whether the church has done enough to repent "years of unspeakable sexual abuse against children by members of the clergy."

"It must continue to do more. Unfortunately, the tragedy of the abuses is enormous. And against this, an upright conscience and not only to not permit it but to put in place the conditions so that it does not happen...It cannot be tolerated. When there is a case of a religious man or woman who abuses, the full force of the law falls upon them. In this, there has been a great deal of progress."

Pope Francis

O'Donnell and Pope Francis then talked about the latter allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples. When asked why this is a big change for the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said:

"The blessing is for everyone. For everyone. To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not? The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!"

During the interview, O'Donnell asked Pope Francis his thoughts on reproduction, to which the Pope said:

"I would say that, in each case, the situation should be carefully and clearly considered, consulting medically and then morally as well. I think there is a general rule in these cases, but you have to go into each case in particular to assess the situation, as long as the moral principle is not skirted."

Before the interview concluded, O'Donnell asked Pope Francis when he looked at the world, what gives him hope, to which the Pope replied.

"Everything. You see tragedies, but you also see so many beautiful things. You see heroic mothers, heroic men, men who have hopes and dreams, women who look to the future. That gives me a lot of hope. People want to live. People forge ahead. And people are fundamentally good. We are all fundamentally good. Yes, there are some rogues and sinners, but the heart itself is good."

To watch O'Donnell's full interview with Pope Francis, click here.

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