Here is a translation of the impromptu discourse the Pope gave at the conclusion of his videoconference with youth of the Scolas project.
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I’m like the one who is told, “Say something.” And then he responds, “OK, I’m going to improvise [a speech].” And then he delivers what he already had prepared.
These are the points that more or less I wanted to tell you, adding to them what I have seen here.
First of all, thank you very much. The presence here is something strange [unique]. I told the president of the Pontifical Academy [of Sciences], Bishop [Marcelo] Sánchez Sorondo, that things are happening. This is something strange because of the developments, the work, the intensity, because of the people that go and come, the creativity of the protocol … in the framework of these three Days of the Worldwide Network of Schools for Encounter.
So, the idea is encounter. This culture of encounter, which is the challenge. Today, no one doubts anymore that the world is at war. And no one doubts, of course, that the world is in “un-encounter.” And we must propose somehow a culture of encounter. A culture of integration, of encounter, of bridges. Isn’t that right? And this job, you are the ones doing it.
I thank the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who has facilitated all of this. Many people have been involved. I know that when these two get together they are a danger. They do a lot.
But remember that African phrase: “To educate a child you need a village.” To educate a person, you need all of this.
We cannot leave children to themselves, please. A phrase has been already incorporated into our language: “street children,” as if a child could be alone, abandoned by all that is the cultural environment, all that is the family environment. Yes, the family is there, the school is there, the culture is there, but the child is alone. Why? Because the educational alliance is broken and the educational alliance must be repaired.
One time, in fourth grade, I was disrespectful to my teacher and the teacher had my mother called. My mom came, I stayed in the classroom, and the teacher went out. And afterward they called me, and my mom — very calm — I feared the worst, no? — said to me, “Did you do this and this and this? Did you say this to the teacher?” “Yes.” “Ask her forgiveness.” And she made me ask for forgiveness as she listened. And I was happy. I got off easy. The second act was when I got home.
Today, at least in many schools of my homeland, a teacher writes an observation in the child’s notebook, and the next day, has the father or the mother denouncing the teacher. The educational alliance is broken. It’s not everyone united for the child. And that’s how we can speak of society as well. So, to rebuild this educational alliance, to rebuild this village to educate the child. We cannot leave them alone, we cannot leave then on the street, unprotected, at the mercy of a world in which the cult of money prevails, the cult of violence and “throwaway”. I repeat this a lot, but it is evident that a throwaway culture has been installed. What isn’t useful is thrown away. Children are thrown away because they are not educated or they are not wanted. The birthrates of certain developed nations are alarming. The elderly are thrown away — and remember what I said of youth and elderly in the future — because this system of hidden euthanasia has been established. That is, “social services will cover you up to this point, and after that, die.” Children and elderly are thrown away. And now the new throwaway is an entire generation of youth without work in developed countries. They speak of 75 million youth in developed countries, 25 years old and younger, without work. A generation of youth is thrown away. This obliges us to come out of ourselves and not to leave the children alone, at least this. And that is our work. They and the elderly are definitely the people most vulnerable in this culture in which the throwaway predominates. But also the youth. It falls on their shoulders too, [in order] to maintain a system of finances balanced where the center is no longer the human person, but money.
In this sense, it is very important to strengthen bonds: social bonds, family bonds, personal bonds. Everyone, but especially the children and the youngest, need an adequate environment, a truly human habitat, in which there are conditions for their harmonious personal development and for their integration in the bigger habitat of society. How important it is, then, the effort to create an extensive and strong “network” of truly human ties, a network that sustains the children, that opens them with confidence and serenity to reality, that is an authentic place of encounter, in which the true, the good and the beautiful arise in their own harmony. If a child doesn’t have this, the only path that is left for him is that of delinquency and addiction. I urge you to keep working to create this human village, ever more human, that provides to children a present of peace and a future of hope.
In you I see, in these moments, the face of so many children and youth who I carry in my heart, because I know that they are throwaway material, and for whom it is worth it to work without rest. Thank you for what you are doing for this initiative, where as well the ties between you have to endure so as to not give space to the internal [conflicts]: “No. I’m in charge of this. Here, I’m the one involved. This is for my group.” No. No. No. That is, I’m going to create ties of unity if I am capable of living them in an initiative where each one renounces the urge to command and increases the urge to serve.
I ask you to pray for me, because I need it. And may God bless you.[Translation by ZENIT]