Text of Francis' Q-and-A With Youth of the Scholas Project

«Go forward. And with courage. Make the future»

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Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ dialogue via video conference on Thursday with youths from across the globe regarding the Scholas initiative.

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Pope Francis: Good afternoon. They tell me that you’re finishing up, that you’re closing. I hope that you have sown good seed so that the fruit will be good. And thank you for all the work that you’ve done. Thank you.

[First question: Cameron, in Queensland, Australia; originally in English]

Hello and Good Day from Australia. Our message to you is that St. Joseph’s… College is a Catholic School in the… tradition. We follow in the footsteps of Scholas and in several campaigns advocating peace internationally and within our own community: an example of such is that we held an interreligious soccer month last month for peace between our school and refugees of the local Vietnamese community. So because of this we’d like to thank you personally for the Scholas programme. It allows us to have direct communication with yourself. As youths of diverse religions. And because of this we’re all incredibly humbled to have this opportunity to speak with you. It is certainly a leap in the right direction in terms of developing a global network of peace and it’s quite amazing how we can use technology to have dialogue to learn from each other. So, what we’d really like to know from you is specifically how the Scholas programme will help us bridge gaps between the youths of various countries today?

Pope Francis: Thank you. And thank you as well for what you’re telling me that you do and what your group does. 

I will try to respond to your question. How can Scholas advance communication and build bridges? Before responding to you, I take up this phrase that you used: «build bridges» [bridge gaps]. In life, you can do one of two things: either build bridges or build walls. Walls separate, divide. Bridges bring together. 

Responding to your question: What can you do? Keep communicating, share your experiences, the experiences that you have. You have a lot in your hearts. You can do many things. All of this that you shared when you introduced yourself, share it so that others are inspired. And listen to what others tell you. And with this communication, no one is the superior, but everything works. This is the spontaneity of life, it is to say a ‘yes’ to life. To communicate is to give oneself, to communicate is generosity, to communicate is respect, to communicate is to avoid every type of discrimination. Keep going forward, kids. And I like what you told me you are doing. May God bless you.

Second question: Eyal, in Tel Aviv, Israel

Hello Father. Good afternoon, Your Holiness. I would like to tell you about our school, La Salle, in the south of Tel Aviv. Gathered there are the three religions: Christians, Jews, and Muslims. And we are all together and we speak almost the same language: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew. We play a lot of sports, we do science, art; we communicate a lot. We have a lot of friends. And I want to thank you for the Scholas project.

Pope Francis: Thank you. And I see that you manage things well and know how to communicate in various languages and from the identity of your own religion. And this is beautiful. What do you want to ask me?

Q: When do you want to come here, to the Holy Land, to Israel?

Pope Francis: I would like to go back. I was there some months ago and I returned very content, very content. The example that you give … 

[Host speaks] [Third question: Sina, in Istanbul, Turkey]

Hi Pope… Hello Pope… I’m joining from Istanbul. First of all, I want to say thank you for everything – that you haven’t only brought some people or schools and students together, but also our beliefs and hearts. We hope you will increase the number of projects, which support peace and interfaith dialogue. We as students don’t want a world full of worse crimes and poverty. People from all nationalities that contain different religions and ethnic groups must learn how to live in peace. We must forget about racism and discrimination. The last thing is that I want to learn your thoughts about the future. Will it be better or worse than the present?

Pope Francis: Thank you for the question and thank you for the reflection that you made: that you young people don’t want war. You want peace. And this you have to shout from your hearts, from within: We want peace!! From within.

Your question: will the future be better or worse? I don’t have the crystal balls that the witches have to see into the future. But I want to tell you one thing. Do you know where the future is? It is in your heart. It is in your mind and it is in your hands. If you feel well [rightly], if you think well [rightly] and if you, with your hands, carry forward this good thinking and good feeling, the future will be better. Young people have the future. 

But careful: Young people with two qualities [have the future]: Youth with wings and with roots. Youth who have wings to fly, to dream, to create; and who have roots to receive from their elders the wisdom that elders give us. Because of this, the future is in your hands if you have wings and roots. Move yourselves to have wings to dream good things, to dream of a better world, to protest against the wars. And on the other hand, respect the wisdom that you received from your elders, from your parents, your grandparents, the elders of your people. The future is in your hands. Take advantage so that it will be better.

[Fourth question: Christian, in Eastern Cape, South Africa]

Thank you, Your Holiness, for taking the time to talk with us. My name is Christian Sakapa and I’m going to ask you some questions. Don’t get nervous. I agree with the concept of the school platform and the values that it represents. How was this idea of the school platform developed?

Pope Francis: Scholas developed … I was going to say by coincidence. But no, it wasn’t coincidence. It came from an idea of this gentleman who is here, José María del Corral, and he was accompanied by Enrique Palmeiro. That’s how Scholas came about, forming a school of neighbors, in the Diocese of Buenos Aires. In addition to the schools, a network of schools of neighbors, to build bridges between the schools of Buenos Aires. And it built many bridges, many bridges, even bridges across oceans. It started as a little thing, as a dream, as something that we weren’t sure was going to happen, and today we can speak with each other. Why? Because we were convinced that youth need to communicate, need to show their values and share their values. 

Youth, today, need three key pillars: education, sport and culture. That’s why Scholas brings together all that. We had a soccer match. The schools do that and they also do cultural activities. Education, sport and culture. Forward, so that the nations can prepare outlets of work for these kids who are accompanied by education, sport and culture. And sport is important because it teaches one to play as a team. Sports saves a person from egotism, it helps to not be egotistical. That’s why it’s important to work as a team and to study as a team and to walk the path of life as a team. 

As you can see, the question didn’t scare me. I thank you for it very much. And keep going in this path of communication, of building bridges, seeking peace, for education, sport and culture. Thank you.

[Fifth question: Ernesto, from La Campanera, El Salvador]

Well, I want to say that … to thank you from here, from El Salvador, and here from all of Latin America, and tell you that .. and also suggest to you that you make a call to all the universities… or to the private businesses.

Pope Francis: I thank you for your greeting from your neighborhood, from your town with your friends. I know of all the work that you are doing in El Salvador. José María told me about it. I know that you are advancing quite a lot, and that you are working hard in education, bu
t remember what I told your companion from South Africa: education, sport and culture. And careful with the «gangs» because, just as bridges exist that unite you, there are also communications to destroy. Be very alert when there are groups that seek destruction, that seek war, that don’t know how to work as a team. Defend yourselves, as a team, as a group, and work hard in this. I know that you are working very well, and very well supported. And the Education Ministry, I know that it supports you. Keep going along this path of working as a team and defend yourselves against those who want to split you and rob you of this strength as a group. May God bless you.

Host asks:

What message does Francis want to give to these five youths and the thousands of young people that are following this conversation. What message do you want to give to all of them?

Pope Francis: [I want to say] one thing that isn’t mine. Jesus said it many times: Be not afraid. In my country we have an expression that I’m not sure how they would translate it in English: [literally] «Don’t get wrinkled up.» Be not afraid. Go forward. Build bridges of peace. Play as a team and make the future better because remember that the future is in your hands. Dream of the future flying, but don’t forget the inheritance of culture, wisdom and religion that your elders left you. Go forward. And with courage. Make the future.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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