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Pope Francis: 20-Somethings Shouldn’t Look Like Old People

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
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“Love, life and friends” is the antidote to despair

Next, the Pope addressed Sara’s question about confidence in life. "There are situations that make us think, ‘But, is it worthwhile to live like this? What can I expect from this life?’” He acknowledged that there is a "piecemeal" world war going on today, that makes us ask ourselves, "Can I trust world leaders? When I go to vote for a candidate, can I trust that he won’t lead my country into war? If you only trust in mankind, you have lost!"
 
Pope Francis affirmed that there are leaders and other people "who call themselves Christians," with a double moral standard, who put their savings and investments into arms factories. He denounced this hypocrisy and lack of coherence between the faith they profess and their actions.  
 
"We see what happened in the last century," he added, referring to the tragedies that marked the early 1900’s: more than a million deaths in Armenia, and many more in the genocide of millions of people in the Shoah in Germany and in the Russian Gulag under Stalin. "But where were the great powers of the time?" the Pope asked. "They were looking the other way. Why? Because they were interested in war: their war!"

And, as the Pope pointed out, those who were being killed were unjustly dismissed as second-class human beings.
 
Pope Francis continued to condemn the hypocrisy of those who didn’t defend the people who died in concentration camps in World War II. "The great powers had photographs of the railroads that took trains to the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, to kill Jews, and also Christians, also Rom, also homosexuals, to kill them there. But tell me, why didn’t they bomb that? Interest! […] The great powers divided Europe among themselves like a cake."
 
The Pope also spoke about suicide among young people in Europe, and about "these young people [who] go to fight with terrorists, at least to do something, for an ideal." He invited today’s youth not to live a worldy life seeking happiness in money and power.

In response to Luigi, a young college student who spoke about a project aimed at building solidarity, the Pope said that "if you get involved there, in a plan for building, helping—let’s think of street children, of migrants, of so many in need, but not only to feed them for one or two days, but to promote them with education[…] Then that sense of mistrust in life recedes, it goes away." In that case, young people won’t "retire too early" even though they must "go against the tide."
 
"Values like soap bubbles" take us nowhere, he pointed out, and encouraged people to "go against the tide" and "be courageous and creative."
 
The Pope told how last summer in August, when "Rome was dead" due to the heat, a group of young people called him to visit. They were on a camping trip through various Italian cities. They were "all dirty and tired… but joyful! Because they had done something ‘against the tide.’"
 
Once again he repeated the words of Pier Giorgio Frassati: "If you want to do something good in life, live, don’t just get by."
 
"’But Father, you speak this way because you are in the Vatican. You have so many monsignors there who do the work'[…] Yes, one could think so. The secret is to understand where one lives," the Pope explained.  He invited the youth of Turin to find inspiration in the saints from their own region who suffered the oppression of Freemasonry, Communism and religious persecution, and who never gave up. On the contrary, in the face of an unpleasant reality, they went against the tide to create a new reality at the service of others.
 
"Always love, life, friends. However, these words can only be lived by ‘going forth:’ always going forth to contribute to something. If you stand still, you won’t do anything in life and you will ruin your own [life]," he concluded.
 
Keeping in mind that many in the audience were students, he reminded them to "avoid the belief that university is only for studying […]: [it] also means to go forth, to go forth in service, especially to the poor!"

Ari Waldir Ramos Diaz is a Rome correspondent for Aletiea. This article was translated from the Spanish by Matthew Green.

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