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Test your ideas with ‘hard reality,’ Pope encourages young politicians

POPE FRANCIS AUDIENCE VATICAN

And seek to dialogue as a brother with those you disagree with, he recommends.

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Politics is about meeting, reflection, and action, explained Pope Francis to nearly 70 young people involved in the Political Fraternity of Chemin Neuf, on May 16, 2022. At the end of the audience, the group prayed for the Pontiff, who was sitting in his wheelchair.

The Political Fraternity was established in France in 2014 and brings together young Christians from 18 to 33 years old with different backgrounds and cultures. Some are involved in politics – elected officials of all stripes- others in associations or communities. Last April, members of this fraternity were already received in audience by the Pope.

“Politics is, first and foremost, an art of encounter,” Pope Francis began by emphasizing to these young people from Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Burundi, France, Ukraine, Lebanon, Spain, Belgium and Germany.

He invited them not to be satisfied with the “often hostile negotiations between political parties.”

“We are called to see political encounters as fraternal encounters, especially with people who disagree with us,” he said. “That means regarding our dialogue partner as a true brother or sister, a beloved son or daughter of God.”

For the Pontiff, a politician must know how to change his or her view of others and accept them unconditionally. “Without such a change of heart, politics often risks turning into a violent confrontation, where people try to impose their own ideas and pursue particular interests over the common good, contrary to the principle that ‘unity prevails over conflict,’” he warned.

From a Christian perspective, “politics is also reflection, that is, the devising of a common project.”

It is a matter of searching for the common good and not just for interests to be defended, he explained.

“Finally, politics is also action,” the Pope concluded, congratulating his audience on their commitment to migrants and ecology. “As Christians,” he told them, “we must always be realistic, confronting our ideas with hard reality, lest we build on sands that sooner or later end up shifting.”

I have also learned that some of you have chosen to live together in a working-class quarter of Paris, in order to listen to the voices of the poor: that is a Christian way of engaging in political life! Don’t forget these things, that realities are more important than ideas: politics cannot be practiced with ideology. That the whole is greater than the part, and that unity prevails over conflict. Always seek unity and do not get lost in conflict.

At the end of the audience, the young people proposed to pray with and for the 85-year-old pope. “We laid our hands on him and invoked the Holy Spirit,” said Sister Allegria, a member of the Political Fraternity. “It seemed good to be able to pray for his mission, his ministry, his health and the heavy decisions he has to make,” she explains.

For four days, these young people involved in the political fraternity participated in a seminar of reflection on the theme of migration. On Friday, May 13, they had the opportunity to exchange ideas with the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development.