Junior high pupils and professors travel all the way from Tokyo for their meeting with the Holy Father
Pope Francis told a group of young Japanese students and their teachers that gentleness is essential in order to foster peace and fruitful dialogue with other cultures.
“What is the deepest attitude we must have to dialogue, and not fight?” he asked them. “Gentleness, the capacity to meet people and cultures with peace.”
The students and professors present traveled from Tokyo for their Aug. 21 meeting with the Pope. They belong to Bunri Seibu Gakuen Junior High School Saitama, which is a non-religious school, and consisted of both Christians and Buddhists.
On the virtue of gentleness, the Holy Father affirmed that “It is the ability to meet people and cultures, as well as to find peace and have the ability to ask intelligent questions including ‘why do you think this way?’ and ‘why does this culture do this?’”
“I hope this trip to be very fruitful for you, because knowing other people and cultures always does so much good for us and makes us grow,” Pope Francis remarked.
He told them that this is because “if we are isolated in ourselves, we only have what we have” and “we cannot grow culturally.”
“But if we instead go to meet other people, other cultures, other ways of thinking, other religions, we go out of ourselves and we begin that so beautiful adventure called dialogue,” the Pope stated.
“When there is a problem, dialogue, this is what brings peace!”
The pontiff told the group that dialogue is important for their maturity because “in comparison with the other person, in comparison with other cultures, even in the healthy comparison with other religions, one grows and matures.”
“Of course there is a danger if the dialogue closes and one gets angry, one can fight,” he stated. “It is the danger of fighting, and that's not good for us because we meet each other to dialogue, not to argue.”
He told them gentleness is about “first listening and feeling others, and then talking.”
“And if you don’t think like me, I think in a different way and you don’t convince me but we are still friends,” he said. “I’ve heard how you think and you’ve heard how I think.”
Pope Francis explained that it is this dialogue which generates peace, and that peace cannot be obtained without dialogue.
“All of the wars, all of the struggles, all of the problems that aren’t resolved with those we meet exist because of the lack of dialogue,” he affirmed.
Pope Francis then expressed his hope for the students to have a “journey of dialogue,” and that they would “know how to dialogue, how this culture thinks, how beautiful this is.”
“I wish you all of this and a good trip in Rome,” he said. “I wish the best for you, your school and your families – God bless you all.”
Originally published at Catholic News Agency on 22 August 2013. Used by permission, all other rights reserved.