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Monday, June 22, 2015

Meeting with the young: go against the grain

Vatican City, 22 June 2015 (VIS) – The first day of the Pope's apostolic trip to Turin concluded with his encounter with the young in Piazza Vittorio. Francis answered to questions from three of them regarding the meaning of love, trust in life and the importance of sharing ideals, setting aside the discourse he had prepared. The following is a summary of the Holy Father's answers:

“Love, life, friends: … these three words are important for life, and they share a common root: the desire to live. … Love moves on two axes: first of all, love is found in actions more than in words: love is concrete. … God began to talk about love when he was involved with His people … when He made a covenant with His people, He saved His people, He made gestures of love, acts of love. And the second dimension, the second axis on which love turns, is that love always communicates itself, that is, love listens and responds, love is found in dialogue and communion. Love is neither deaf nor mute, it communicates itself. … Love is very respectful to others, it does not use them, and therefore love is chaste. … It considers the life of the other person to be sacred: I respect you, I do not want to use you. … Forgive me if I say something you did not expect, but I ask you: make the effort to live love chastely. And a consequence derives from this: … love sacrifices itself for others. Love is service. When Jesus, after the washing of the feet, explains this gesture to the apostles, He teaches them that we are made to serve one another”.

“Very often we breathe an air of distrust in life. There are situations that make us think, 'But is it worth living like this?'. I think of the wars in this world. At times I have said that we are living a third world war, but in pieces. There is war in Europe, there is war in Africa, there is war in the Middle East, there is war in other countries ... But can I trust in a life like this? Can I trust world leaders? When I go to vote for a candidate, can I trust that he or she will not take my country to war? If you trust only in men, you have lost! Think of the people, leaders, entrepreneurs, who say they are Christians and then produce weapons! They say one thing and do another. Hypocrisy … But we see what happened during the last century: in 1914, or rather in 1915 precisely. There was the great tragedy in Armenia. Many people died. I do not know how many, but certainly more than a million. Where were the great powers of the time? They looked away. Why? Because they were interested in war: their war! And those who died, they were second class people, human beings. Then, in the 1930s and 1940s, the tragedy of the Shoah. The great powers had photographed the railway lines that carried the trains to the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, to kill Jews, and also Christians, Roma, homosexuals, to kill them there. But tell me, why did they not bomb them? Interests! And soon after, almost at the same time, there were the lagers in Russia: Stalin … how many Christians suffered and were killed. The great powers divided Europe like a cake. Many years had to pass before reaching a certain 'freedom'. There is the hypocrisy of speaking about peace and producing arms, and even selling weapons to this one, who is at war with that one, and to that one who is at war with this!”

“I understand what you say about distrust in life: today, too, we are living a culture of waste. All that is not of economic use is discarded. … And so, with this culture of waste, is it possible to trust in life? … A young person who cannot study, who does not have a job, who suffers the shame of not feeling worthy because he does not have a job, does not earn life. … How often do young people commit suicide? … Or how often do they go to fight with terrorists, at least to do something, for an ideal? … And this is why Jesus told us not to place our security in wealth, in worldly powers. How can I live a life that does n destroy, that is not a life of destruction, a life that does not discard people? How can a live a life that does not disappoint me?”.

“We must go ahead with our plans to build, and this life does not disappoint. If you are involved in a plan for construction, to help … that sense of distrust in life goes away. Be active, and go against the grain. For you, young people, who experience this economic and also cultural, hedonistic, consumerist situation with its soap bubble values, with these values it is not possible to go ahead. Do constructive things, even if they are small, that bring us together again, that unite us together, with our ideals: this is the best antidote to this distrust of life, against this culture that offers you only pleasure. … The secret is clearly understanding where you live. In this land … at the end of the nineteenth century there were the worst possible conditions for the growth of the young: Freemasonry prevailed, even the Church could do nothing; there was anti-clericalism, there was Satanism. … It was one of the worst times and one of the worst places in the history of Italy. But in that period, many saints were born. Why? Because they realised that they had to swim against the tide of that culture, that way of life. Live in reality, and if that reality is glass and not diamond, I find an alternative reality and make it my own, a reality that is of service to others”.

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