Young people give pontiff elaborate show, with butterflies
At an encounter with young people in Morelia’s José María Morelos y Pavón Stadium Tuesday, Pope Francis witnessed the enthusiasm of Mexico’s youth, heard young people’s testimonies and enjoyed a display of Mexican culture and natural beauty.
On the fourth and next-to-last day of his visit, some 50,000 young people packed the stadium and enjoyed the music and dance from various parts of Mexico. An elaborately choreographed show at the end of the program highlighted the famous monarch butterflies that annually migrate from Canada and the United States to the state of Michoacan.
Following is the prepared text of Pope Francis’ address:
Good afternoon. When I arrived in this country, I received a warm welcome. I saw something that I have sensed for a long time: the vitality, the joy and the festive spirit of the Mexican people. And now, after listening to you, but particularly after seeing you, I am also certain about something else, something I said to the president of the nation when I arrived. One of Mexico’s greatest treasures is that it has a youthful face: its young people. Yes, you are the wealth of this land. I did not say the hope of this land but its wealth.
You cannot live in hope or look to the future if you do not first know how to value yourselves, if you do not feel that your life, your hands, your history is worth the effort. Hope is born when you are able to experience that all is not lost, and for this to happen it is necessary to start “at home,” to begin with yourself. Not everything is lost. I am not lost; I am worth something, I am worth a lot. The biggest threats to hope are those words that devalue you, that make you feel second rate. The biggest threat to hope is when you feel that you do not matter to anybody or that that you have been left aside. The biggest threat to hope is when you feel that, either being present or absent, you make no difference. This kills, this crushes us and opens the door to much suffering.
The principal threat to hope is to allow yourself to believe that you begin to be valuable when you start wearing the right clothes, the latest brands and fashions, or when you enjoy prestige, are important because you have money; but in the depths of your heart you do not believe that you are worthy of kindness or love. The biggest threat is when a person feels he or she must have money to buy everything, including the love of others. The biggest threat is to believe that by having a big car, you will be happy.
You are the wealth of Mexico; you are the wealth of the Church. I understand that often it is difficult to feel your value when you are continually exposed to the loss of friends or relatives at the hands of the drug trade, of drugs themselves, of criminal organizations that sow terror. It is hard to feel the wealth of a nation when there are no opportunities for dignified work, no possibilities for study or advancement, when you feel your rights are being trampled on, which then leads you to extreme situations. It is difficult to appreciate the value of a place when, because of your youth, you are used for selfish purposes, seduced by promises that end up being untrue.
Nonetheless, despite all this, I will never tire of saying you are the wealth of Mexico.
Don’t think I am saying this because I am good, or I because I have concise ideas about it; no, dear friends, it is not like that. I say this to you, and I am convinced of it. And do you know why? Because, like you, I believe in Jesus Christ. And it is he who continually renews in me this hope; it is he who continually renews my outlook. It is he who continually invites me to a conversion of heart. Yes, my friends, I say this because in Jesus I have found the One who is able to bring out the best in me. Hand in hand with him we can move forward, hand in hand with him we can begin again and again, hand in hand with him we find the strength to say: it is a lie to believe that the only way to live, or to be young, is to entrust oneself to drug dealers or others who do nothing but sow destruction and death. Hand in hand with Jesus Christ we can say it is a lie that the only way to live as young people here is in poverty and exclusion — in the exclusion of opportunities, in the exclusion of spaces, in the exclusion of training and education, in the exclusion of hope. It is Jesus Christ who refutes all attempts to render you useless or to be mere mercenaries of other people’s ambitions.
You have asked me for a word of hope, and the words I have to give you are Jesus Christ. When everything seems too much, when it seems that the world is crashing down around you, embrace his Cross, draw close to him and please, never let go of his hand; please, never leave him. Hand in hand with him it is possible to live fully, by holding his hand it is possible to believe that it is worth the effort to give your best, to be leaven, salt and light among your friends, neighborhoods and community. For this reason, dear friends, holding the hand of Jesus I ask you to not let yourselves be excluded, do not allow yourselves to be devalued, do not let them treat you like a commodity. Of course, you may not be able to have the latest car model at the door, you will not have pockets filled with money, but you will have something that no one can take away from you, which is the experience of being loved, embraced and accompanied. It is the experience of being family, of feeling oneself as part of a community.
Today the Lord continues to call you, he continues to draw you to him, just as he did with the Indian, Juan Diego. He invites you to build a shrine, a shrine that is not a physical place but rather a community, a shrine called “parish,” a shrine called “Nation.” Being a community, a family, and knowing that we are citizens is one of the best antidotes to all that threatens us, because it makes us feel that we are a part of the great family of God. This is not an invitation to flee and enclose ourselves but, on the contrary, to go out and invite others, to go out and proclaim to others that being young in Mexico is the greatest wealth, and consequently, it cannot be sacrificed.
[UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Vatican released a transcript of remarks the pope made at the meeting, outside of the prepared text.]
Mountain climbers have a lovely song that I like to repeat to young people. As they go up the mountain, they sing: “In the art of climbing upward, the triumph is not in not falling but rather in not staying down on the ground.”
This is the art, and who is the only one who can take you by the hand so that you are not left lying on the ground? Jesus Christ is the only one. Jesus Christ, who sometimes sends a brother or sister to speak to you or help you. Don’t hide your hand when you have fallen, do not say to him: “Don’t look at me; I’m covered in mud. Don’t look at me; I’m without hope.” You have only to let him grab your hand and you his, and then that richness which is inside you, which is covered in mud, and which you have given up on will begin, through hope, to bear fruit. But always hold onto Jesus’ hand.
This is the way, do not forget: “In the art of climbing upward, the triumph is not in not falling but rather in not staying down on the ground.” Never allow yourselves to stay down, fallen on the ground! Never! Agreed? And if you see a friend who slipped up in life and has fallen, go and offer him or her your hand, but do so with dignity. Put yourself on their level, listen to them and don’t say: “I have the solution for you.” No, as a friend, slowly give them strength by your words, give them strength by your listening, that medicine which sadly is being forgotten: “the therapy of listening.” Let them speak, let them share their experience, and then little by little, they will offer you their hand, and in the name of Jesus Christ, you can help them.
But if you go in suddenly and begin to give them a sermon, going on about the same thing, well then, he or she will be worse off than before. Am I clear? Never let go of Jesus’ hand, never leave him; and if you do move away from him, get up and keep moving forward, he understands what you are going through. Hand in hand with Jesus, it is possible to live fully; by holding his hand it is possible to believe that life is worth the effort, it is worth giving of your best, to be leaven, salt and light among friends, in neighborhoods, communities and families.
For this reason, dear friends, holding the hand of Jesus I ask you to not let yourselves be excluded, do not allow yourselves to be devalued, do not let them treat you like a commodity. For this Jesus gave us good advice, so that we would not be left excluded, left without value, treated as a commodity: “Be astute as serpents but humble as doves.” These two virtues go together. Young people do not lack a lively mind, but they do sometimes lack that astuteness that would prevent them from being naive. The two things: astuteness but with simplicity and goodness. Of course, on this journey you may perhaps not be able to have the latest car model at the door, you will not have pockets filled with money, but you will have something that no one can take away from you, which is the experience of being loved, embraced and accompanied. It is the delight of enjoying an encounter, the delight of dreaming and desiring encounter among everyone. It is the experience of being a family, of feeling oneself as part of a community. It is the experience of being able to look at the world in the face, with your head held up high, without the car, without the money, but with your head held high: this is dignity. Three words we want to repeat: value, because you have been made valuable; hope, because we want to be open to hope; and dignity …
Jesus, who gives us hope, would never ask us to be assassins; rather, he calls us disciples, he calls us friends. Jesus would never send us out to death, but rather everything in him speaks of life. A life in a family, life in a community; families and communities for the good of society. And here, Rosario, I refer to what you said, something really beautiful: “In the family we learn closeness.” In the family we learn solidarity, how to share, to discern, to walk ahead with each other’s problems, to fight and to make up, to argue and to embrace and to kiss. The family is the first school of the nation, and in the family you will find that richness and value that you have. The family is like the custodian of that great value, in the family you will find hope, for Jesus is there, and in the family you will have dignity. Never, never put the family to one side.