Pope's Address to Young People

“Real love is about loving and letting yourselves be loved”

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Here is a transcription of the simultaneous translation of the address Pope Francis improvised in Spanish at his meeting today with youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

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Dear young friends, when I speak spontaneously, I do it in Spanish. No? Because I don’t know the English language. May I do it? [Applause. Yes!] Thank you very much.

He is Fr. Mark, a good translator.

First of all, there’s sad news today: Yesterday as Mass was about to start, a piece of the scaffolding fell and upon falling, it hit a young woman who was working in the area. And she died. Her name is Kristel. She worked for the organization and preparation for that very Mass. She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for [an organization called Catholic Relief Services], a volunteer worker. I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to our [mother], Our Lady in heaven. 

Let us pray.

[Silence] [Ave Maria … Hail Mary]

Let us also pray for her parents. She was the only daughter. Her mom is coming from Hong Kong and her father has come to Manila to wait. 

[Our Father who art in heaven] [In English, from the prepared text:]

It is a joy for me to be with you this morning. I greet each of you from the heart, and I thank all those who made this meeting possible. During my visit to the Philippines, I wanted in a particular way to meet with young people, to listen to you and to talk with you. I want to express the love and the hopes of the Church for you. And I want to encourage you, as Christian citizens of this country, to offer yourselves passionately and honestly to the great work of renewing your society and helping to build a better world.

In a special way, I thank the young people who have offered words of welcome to me.

[listing the names of the youth who spoke] Thank you very much.

And only a very small representation of females among you. Too little, eh? 

[laughter. Note: There were three young men who spoke and one young woman, who accompanied the first speaker, a child who had been rescued from the street. She asked the question to the Pope, regarding the injustices suffered by children such as prostitution and abandonment, Why is God allowing such things to happen, even if it is not the fault of the children? And why are there only very few people helping us? ] 

Women have much to tell us is today’s society. [applause] Sometimes we are too ‘machistas’ and we don’t allow room for the woman, but women are capable of seeing things from a different angle to us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand. Look at this fact today. She [Glyzelle] is the only one who has posed a question for which there is no answer. And she wasn’t even able to express it in words, but rather in tears. So when the next Pope comes [to Manila], please more girls/women among the number. [applause]

I thank you Jun that you have expressed yourself so bravely. The nucleus of your question, as I’ve said, almost doesn’t have a reply. Only when we too can cry about the things which you’ve said are we able to come close to replying to that question. Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and cry then we can understand something. 

There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You spoke something of this. A compassion which moreover leads us to put our hand into the pocket and give something to someone, to the poor. If Christ had had that kind of compassion he would have walked by, greeted three people, and moved on [returned to the Father]. But it was only when Christ cried and was capable of crying, he understood our lives, what is going on in our lives. 

Dear girls, boys, young people, in today’s world there is a great lack of capacity of knowing how to cry. The marginalized people weep. Those that are left to one side are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But [those of us who live a life more or less without needs don’t know how to cry.] Certain realities in life we only see through eyes that are cleansed through our tears.

I invite each one of you here to ask yourself, have I learned how to weep, how to cry? [When I see a child with hunger, a child on drugs on the street, a child who doesn’t have a house, a child abandoned, a child abused, a child used by a society, as a slave]? Unfortunately, there are those who cry because they want something more. This is the first thing I’d like to say. Let us learn how to weep, as she has shown us today [indicating the girl who asked the question]. Let us not forget this lesson. The great question of why so many children suffer, she asked crying. And the great response that we can make today is, let us learn, really learn how to weep, how to cry. 

Jesus in the Gospel, he cried. He cried for his dead friend. He cried in his heart for the family that had lost its daughter. He cried when he saw the poor widow having to bury her son. And he was moved to tears, to compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor. If you don’t learn how to cry, you can’t be good Christians.

This is a challenge. Jun and Glyzelle have posed this challenge to us today. And when they pose this question to us, why children suffer, why this and that tragedy occurs in life, our response must either be silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous. Don’t be frightened of crying. 

Then came Leandros Santos II and his question. He also posed questions. The world of information. Today with so many means of communication we are overloaded with information. And is that bad? No. It is good and it can help. But there is a real danger of living in a way of accumulating information. And we have so much information. But maybe we don’t know what to do with that information. We run the risk of becoming [museum-youth], who have everything but don’t know what to do. We don’t need youth-museums, but we do need [wise youth]. You might ask me, “Father how do we become [wise]? This is another challenge. The challenge of love.

Which is the most important subject that you have to learn in university? What is the most important subject you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. This is the challenge that life offers you: To learn how to love. Not just accumulating information without knowing what to do with it. But through that love, that that information bear fruit. 

And for this the Gospel offers a serene path and way forward. To use the three languages: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. And the three languages, to use them in harmony. What you think, you must feel, and put into effect That information comes down to your heart and you realize it in real works. And this, harmoniously. Think what you feel and what you do. To feel what you think and do. To do what you think and what you feel. The three languages. 

Can you repeat this? To think, to feel and to do. [Youth repeat three times] And all of that, harmoniously.

Real love is about loving and letting yourselves be loved. [It is more difficult to let yourselves be loved than to love.] That is why it is so difficult to come to the perfect love of God. Because we can love him, but the important thing is to let yourselves be loved by him. Real love is opening yourselves to the love that wants to come to you, which causes surprise in us. If you only have information, then the element of surprise is gone. Love opens you to surprise and is a surprise because it presupposes a dialogue between the two, [between the one loving and the one being loved.] And we say that God is a God of surprises because he always loved us first and he awaits us with a surprise. God surprises us. 

Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God. Let us not have the psychology of the computer to think we know it all. 

All t
he responses on the computer screen but no real surprise. In the challenge of love, God reveals himself through surprises. 

Let’s think of St. Matthew, a good financier, and he let people down because he imposed taxes against his own citizens, the Jews, to give to the Romans. He was full of money and charged these taxes. But then Jesus goes by, looks at him, and said, follow me. He couldn’t believe it.

If you have time, go and see the picture that Caravaggio painted of this scene. Jesus calls him and those around him said, “This one? He’s betrayed? He’s no good.” And he holds money to himself. But the surprise of being loved overcomes him and [he follows Jesus.]

That day when Matthew left his home, said good-bye to his wife, he never thought he was going to come back without money, and concerned about how to have such a big feast, to prepare that feast for him who had loved him first, who had surprised Matthew with something very special, more important than all the money that Matthew had. 

Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Don’t be frightened of surprises. They shake the ground from under your feet, and they make us unsure. But they move us forward in the right direction. Real love leads you to spend yourselves in life. [Even with the risk of finishing with your hands empty]. 

Let us think of St. Francis. He died with empty hands, empty pockets, but with a very full heart. Not youth-museums, but wise youth. To be wise, use the three languages: To think well, to feel well and to do well. And to be wise, allow yourselves to be surprised by the love of God. That is a good life.

Thank you.

And he who came with a good plan to show us how to go in life was Ricky. With all the activities, the multiple facets that accompany young people. Thank you Ricky, for what you do, and your friends. But I’d like to ask you Ricky, a question: You and your friends are going to give. Give help. But do you allow yourselves to receive? Ricky, answer in your heart. 

In the Gospel we just heard, there is a beautiful phrase that for me is the most important of all. The Gospel says that he looked at the young man, Jesus looked at him, and he loved him. When one sees a group of friends, Ricky and his friends, one loves them much because they do things that are very good. But the most important phrase that Jesus says, “You lack one thing.”

Let us listen to this word of Jesus in silence. You lack only one thing. You lack only one thing. [Youth repeat] What is it that I lack? To all who Jesus loves so much, I ask you, do you allow others to give you from their riches to you who don’t have those riches? The Sadducees, the doctors of the law, in the time of Jesus, gave much to the people, the law, they taught them. But they never allowed the people to give them something. Jesus had to come to allow himself to feel compassion, to be loved. How many young people among you are there like this? You know how to give and yet you haven’t yet learned how to receive. You lack only one thing: [In english: Become a beggar. Become a beggar]  to become a beggar. This is what you lack. To learn how to beg. And to those to whom we give.

This isn’t easy to understand. To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive [from the humility of those we help]. To learn to be evangelized by the poor. Those we help. The infirm, the orphans. They have so much to offer us. Have I learned how to beg also for that? Or do I feel self-sufficient, and I am only going to offer something. You give and think that you have no need of anything. Do you know that you too are poor? Do you know your poverty and the need that you receive? Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve, let them give to you? And this is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to the others. To learn how to offer your hand from your very own poverty. 

There were some points that I had prepared.

To learn how to love and to learn how to be loved. There is a challenge which is a challenge of integrity. 

[In English, returning to his text:]

This is not only because this country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change.

There is the challenge, the concern for the environment. And finally, the challenge of the poor.

[Returning to Spanish:]

To love the poor. [Your bishops want you to look upon the poor in a special way this year.] Do you think of the poor. Do you feel with the poor, do something for the poor. And do you ask the poor that they might give you the wisdom that they have?

This is what I wished to tell you all today. Sorry, I haven’t read what I prepared for you. [But there is a phrase that consoles me]: Reality is superior to ideas. And the reality that [you have proposed] that you all have is superior to the paper I have in front of me.

Thank you very much.

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