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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Francis to the young people of Kenya: tribalism is defeated by listening, an open heart, and dialogue

Vatican City, 28 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's last act in Kenya was his encounter with the young in the Kasarani stadium, where he set aside his prepared discourse and instead directly responded to some questions, in his native Spanish. The following are extensive extracts from Pope Francis' answers.

“There exists a question at the basis of all the questions you have asked me. Why are there divisions, struggles, war, death and fanaticism? Why is there this desire for self-destruction? In the first page of the Bible, after all the wonders that God worked, a brother kills his own brother. The spirit of evil leads us to destruction; the spirit of evil leads us to disunity, to tribalism, to corruption, to drug abuse. … It leads us to destruction through fanaticism. Manuel asked me, 'What can we do to ensure that ideological fanaticism does not rob us of our brothers or friends?'. … The first thing I would say in response is that a man loses the best of his humanity, and a woman loses the best of her humanity, when they forget to pray, because they consider themselves omnipotent; they do not feel the need to ask the Lord's help when faced with so many tragedies. Life is full of difficulties, but there are two ways of looking at difficulties: either you can see them as something that obstructs you, that destroys you, or you can see them as a real opportunity. It is up to you to choose. For me, is a difficulty either a path to destruction, or an opportunity to overcome my situation, or that of my family, my community or my country? … Some of the difficulties that you have mentioned are challenges”.

“One challenge that Lynette mentioned is that of tribalism. Tribalism destroys a nation: … it can be defeated by using our ear, our heart and our hand. With our ears, we listen: what is your culture? Why are you this way? Why does your tribe have this habit or this custom? … With the heart: after listening, the answer is to open your heart; and finally, to extend you hand so as to continue the dialogue. … I would now like to invite all you young people … to come here and to take each other by the hand; let us stand up and take each other by the hand as a sign against tribalism. We are all a single nation! … Conquering tribalism is a task to be carried out day by day: it is the work of the ear, in listening to others; the work of the heart, opening one's heart to others; and the work of the hand, extending one's hand to others”.

“Another question is that of corruption. … Corruption is something that enters into us. It is like sugar: it is sweet, we like it, it's easy, but then, it ends badly. With so much easy sugar we end up diabetic, and so does our country. Every time we accept a bribe and put it in our pocket, we destroy our heart, we destroy our personality and we destroy our homeland. … What you steal through corruption remains … in the heart of the many men and women who have been harmed by your example of corruption. It remains in the lack of the good you should have done and did not do. It remains in sick and hungry children, because the money that was for them, through your corruption, you kept for yourself. Boys and girls, corruption is not a path for life, it is a path of death”.

“Manuel too asked some incisive questions. … What can we do to prevent the recruitment of our loved ones [by militias]? What can we do to bring them back? To answer this question we need to know why a young person, full of hope, lets himself be recruited or indeed seeks to be recruited: he leaves behind his family, his friends, he drifts away from life, because he learns how to kill. And this is a question that you must address to the authorities. If a young person, a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, has no job and cannot study, what can he or she do? … The first thing we must do to prevent the young from being recruited or seeking recruitment is to focus on education and work. If young people have no job, what future awaits them? … This is the danger. It is a social danger, that comes from beyond us, from beyond the country, because it depends on the international system, which is unjust, and which places the economy and the god of money at its centre, rather than the person”.

“Another question was: how can we see the hand of God in the tragedies of life? … Men and women all over the world ask themselves this question in one way or another, and they find no explanation. There are questions to which, no matter how much we try to respond, we are unable to find an answer. How can I see the hand of God in a tragedy of life? There is just one answer: no, there is no answer. There is just one route, looking at the Son of God. God delivered Him to us to save all of us. God Himself became a tragedy. God let Himself be destroyed on the cross. And when the moment comes when you do not understand, when you are desperate and the world seems to fall down around you, look to the Cross! There we see God's failure, God's destruction. But there is also the challenge of our faith. Because the story did not end with this failure: there was then the Resurrection, which renewed us all”.

“A final question … What words do you have for young people who have not experienced love in their own families? Is it possible to come out of this experience? There are abandoned children everywhere: either they are abandoned at birth, or they were abandoned by life, by the family and parents, and do not feel the affection of the family. This is why the family is so important. … There is just one cure to emerge from this experience: give what you have not received. If you have not received understanding, be understanding with others; if you have not received love, love others; if you have felt the pain of loneliness, draw close to those who are alone. Flesh is healed with flesh! And God made Himself flesh to heal us. Let us too do the same towards others”.

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