Pope's Meeting With Recently Confirmed in Milan (Full Text of Q & A)

Pope Responds Off-the-cuff During Last Encounter on His Agenda for Pastoral Visit to Milan

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At 5:45 p.m. Saturday, March 25, 2017, Pope Francis met with Confirmation candidates and recently confirmed in the Meazza-San Siro Stadium of Milan, during his one-day pastoral visit to the northern Italian city.
The President of the establishment, Toberto Ruozzi, received the Pope at the entrance of the Stadium. In the course of the meeting, the Pontiff answered some questions posed by a Confirmation candidate, by a married couple and by a catechist.
Here is a translation of the questions posed and the Holy Father’s answers:
* * *
The Holy Father’s Answers to Some Questions
A Young Person’s Question:
Hello, I’m David and I come from Cornaredo. I would like to ask you a question: When you were our age, what helped you to grow in friendship with Jesus?
Pope Francis:  Good evening! David has asked a very simple question, which is easy for me to answer, because I must only remember somewhat the times when I was your age. And his question is: “When you were our age, what helped you to grow in friendship with Jesus?” There were three things, but with a thread that unites all three. The first thing that helped me was my grandparents. “But, Father, how can grandparents help one to grow in friendship with Jesus?” What do you think? Can they are can’t they?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: But grandparents are old!
Young people: No!
Pope Francis: No? They aren’t old?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: They are old . . . Grandparents are of another time: grandparents don’t know how to use a computer, they don’t have mobile phones . . . I ask once again: can grandparents help you to grow in friendship with Jesus?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: And this was my experience: my grandparents spoke to me normally of the things of life. One grandfather was a carpenter and he taught me how Jesus, learned the same craft with work and so, when I looked at my grandfather, I thought of Jesus. My other grandfather told me never to go to bed without saying a word to Jesus, to say “good night” to Him. My grandmother taught me to pray and also my mother – my other grandmother, the same . . . The important thing is this: grandparents have the wisdom of life. What do grandparents have?
Young people: The wisdom of life
Pope Francis: They have the wisdom of life. And with that wisdom they teach us how to get close to Jesus. They did it for me – first the grandparents. An advice: talk with your grandparents. Talk, ask all the questions you wish. Listen to your grandparents. In this time, it’s important to talk with your grandparents. Have you understood?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: And you, those of you who have living grandparents, do you make an effort to talk, to ask them questions, to listen to them? Will you make the effort? Will you do this work?
Young people: Yes . . .
Pope Francis: You’re not very convinced. Will you do it?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: Grandparents – then it helped me very much to play with friends, because to play well, to play and feel the joy of a game with friends, without insulting one another, and to think that Jesus played like this . . . But, I ask you: Did Jesus play or not?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: But He was God! God no, He can’t play . . . did Jesus play?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: You are convinced. Yes, Jesus played, and He played with others. And it does us good to play with friends, because when the game is clean, one learns to respect others, one learns to be a team, to work together. And this unites us to Jesus — to play with friends. However, there is something that I believe one of you said — does quarrelling with friends help to know Jesus?
Young people: No!
Pope Francis: What?
Young people: No!
Pope Francis: OK. And if one quarrels, because it’s normal to quarrel, but then one apologies, the story is finished. Is this clear?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: It helped me very much to play with friends. And a third thing that helped me to grow in friendship with Jesus was the parish, the Oratory, to go to the parish, to go to the Oratory, to meet with others: this is important! Do you like to go to the parish?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: Do you like . . . but tell the truth – do you like to go to Mass?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: [laughs] I’m not sure . . . Do you like to go to the Oratory?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: Ah yes, you like this. And these three things will make you – truly, this is advice that I give you – these three things will make your friendship with Jesus grow: to talk with grandparents, to play with friends and to go to the parish and to the Oratory because, with these three things, you will pray more. [Applause] And prayer is the thread that unites things. Thank you. [Applause] **
Question of Two Parents
Good evening. We are Monica and Alberto, and we are parents of three, the last of whom will receive Holy Confirmation next October. The question we would like to ask you is this: how can we transmit to our children the beauty of the faith? Sometimes it seems so complicated to be able to speak of these things without becoming boring and banal or , worse yet, authoritarian. What words should we use?
Pope Francis: Thank you. I had these questions before . . . Yes, because you sent them to me, and to be clear in the answer, I took some notes, I wrote something, and now I would like to answer Monica and Alberto.
1: I think this is one of the key-questions that touches our life as parents: the transmission of the faith, and it also touches our life as Pastors, and as educators – the transmission of the faith. And I would like to ask you this question. And I invite you to recall who were the persons who left an imprint on your faith and what of them remained most imprinted in you? What the children asked me I ask you. Who were the persons, the situations, things that helped you to grow in the faith, the transmission of the faith. I invite you parents to become children again in your imagination for a minute, and to recall the persons who helped you to believe. “Who helped me to believe?” Father, mother, grandparents, a catechist, an aunt, the parish priest, a neighbor, perhaps . . . We all bear in our memory, but especially in the heart, someone who has helped us to believe. Now I pose a challenge to you. A minute’s silence . . . and each one think: who helped me to believe? And I respond for my part, and to respond in truth I must go back with the memory to Lombardy . . . [loud applause]. I was helped to believe, to grow a lot in the faith, by a priest of the diocese of Lodi; a good priest who baptized me and then during my whole life, I went to him: sometimes more often, at others less . . .; and he accompanied me until I entered the noviciate [of the Jesuits]. And I owe this to you, Lombardians, thank you! [Applause] And I never forget that priest, never, never. He was an apostle of the Confessional, an apostle of the Confessional – merciful, good worker. And so he helped me grow.
Has everyone thought of the person? I have said who helped me. And you will ask the reason for this little exercise. Our children look at us constantly, even if we don’t realize it; they observe us all the time and meanwhile they learn. [Applause] “Children look at us”: this is the title of a 1943 film of Vittorio De Sica. Look for it. Look for it. “Children look at us.” And, between parenthesis, I would like to say that the Italian film of the post-War and a bit later was, generally, a true “catechesis” of humanity. I close the parenthesis. The children look at us, and you can’t imagine the anguish a child feels when the parents quarrel. They suffer! [Applause] And when parents separate, they pay the price. [Applause] When a child is brought into the world, you must be conscious of this: we take on the responsibility to make the faith grow in this child. It will help you very much to read the Exhortation Amoris laetitia, especially the first chapters on love, marriage, the fourth chapter, which is truly key. But don’t forget: when you quarrel, the children suffer and don’t grow in the faith. [Applause] Children know our joys, our sadness and worries. They are able to understand everything, they note everything and, given that they are very, very intuitive, they draw their conclusions and their teachings. They know when we set traps for them and when we don’t. They know it. They are very clever. Therefore, one of the first things that I will say to you is: take care of them; take care of their heart, of their joy and of their hope. Your children’s “little eyes” gradually memorize and read with the heart how faith is one of the best legacies that you have received from your parents and your ancestors. They realize it. And if you give the faith and live it well, there is transmission. Show them how the faith helps you to go on, to face the many dramas we have, not with a pessimistic but a confident attitude; this is the best witness we can give them. There is a saying: “The wind took away the words,” but what is sowed in the memory, in the heart, remains forever.
2: Another thing – in different parts, <of the world>, many families have a very beautiful tradition of going to Mass together and afterwards, they go to a park, they take the children to play together. Thus the faith becomes an exigency of the family with other families, with friends, family friends . . . This is good and it helps to live the Commandment to sanctify the feasts. Not only to go to church to pray or to sleep during the homily – it happens! –, not only, but then to go and play together. Now that the good days are beginning, for instance, on Sunday after having gone to Mass as a family, it is good if you can go to a park or Square to play, to be together a bit. In my land this is called “dominguear,” to spend Sunday together. However, our time is somewhat a bad time to do this, because so many parents, to feed their family, must also work on holidays. And this is awful. I always ask parents, when they tell me that they lose their patience with the children – I ask first: “But how many are they?” – “Three, four,” they say. And I ask them a second question: “Do you play with your children? … Do you play?” And they don’t know what to answer. In these times parents can’t, or they’ve lost the habit of playing with their children, of “losing [spending] time” with the children. A father once said to me: “Father, when I leave to go to work, they are still in bed, and when I return in the late evening, they are already in bed. I see them only on holidays. It’s awful. It’s this life that takes away one’s humanity! But keep this in mind: play with the children, “lose [spend] time” with the children and also transmit the faith. It’s gratuitousness, the gratuitousness of God.
3: And one last thing: the family’s education in solidarity. This is to transmit the faith with education in solidarity, in the works of mercy. Works of mercy make faith grow in the heart. This is very important. I like to put the accent on celebration, on gratuitousness, on seeking other families and living the faith as an area of family enjoyment. I think it is also necessary to add another element. There is no celebration without solidarity, as there is no solidarity without celebration, because when one is supportive, one is joyful and transmits joy.
I don’t want to bore you: I will tell you something that I learnt in Buenos Aires. It was lunchtime, a mother with three children – six, four and a half and three years old; then she had two more. Her husband was at work. They were at lunch and were in fact eating cutlets alla Milanese, yes, because she told me so, and each one of the children had one on his plate. Someone knocked at the door. The eldest one went, opened the door saw <who was there> and returned and said: “Mother, it’s a poor man, he asks for something to eat.” And the wise mother asked the question: “What shall we do? Do we or do we not give?” – “Yes, Mother, let’s give, let’s give!” There were other cutlets there. The mother said: “Ah, very good: let‘s take two buns” each one cut his in half and we will have two buns” – “Mother, but there are those <there>!” “No, those are for dinner.” And the mother taught them solidarity, but the kind that costs, not the one that <is easy>! This, for instance, would be enough, but it will make you laugh to know how the story ended. The week after, the mother had to go out to do the shopping, in the afternoon, about four o’clock, and she left the three children alone, they were good, for an hour or so. She left. When the mother returned, they weren’t three but four! There were the three children and a tramp [he laughs] who had asked for alms and they made him come in, and they were drinking a caffe latte together … But this is an end to laugh a bit . . . To educate in solidarity, namely, in the works of mercy. Thank you.
A Catechist’s Question
Good evening, I am Valeria, mother and catechist of a parish of Milan at Rogoredo. You have taught us that to educate a youth there must be a village: our Archbishops has also spurred us these years to collaborate, so that there is collaboration between the educating figures. So we want to ask your advice, so that we can open ourselves to a dialogue and a discussion with all the educators that have something to do with our young people . . .
Pope Francis:
I would recommend an education based on thinking-feeling-doing, namely an education with the intellect, with the heart and with the hands — the three languages. Educate to harmony of the three languages, to the point that young people, boys and girls can think about what they feel and do, feel what they think and do and do what they think and feel. Do not separate the three things, but all three <must be> together. Do not educate only the intellect: this is to give intellectual notions, which are important, but without the heart and without the hands it’s of no use, no use. Education must be harmonious. However, one can also say: educate with contents, ideas, with attitudes of life and with values. It can also be said like this, but never educate only with notions, with ideas, for instance. No. The heart must also grow in education, and also “doing,” the attitude, the way of behaving in life.
With reference to the previous point, I remember that once there was a pupil in a school who was a phenomenon at playing soccer, but a disaster in his conduct in the class. He was given a rule that, if he didn’t behave well he would have to abandon soccer, which he liked so much! Given that he continued to misbehave, he was two months without playing and this made things worse. Be careful when you punish: that boy worsened. It’s true, I knew this boy. One day the coach spoke with the Directress and he explained: “Things aren’t going well! Let me try,” he said to the Directress, and he asked if the boy could play again. “Let’s try,” said the lady. And the coach made <the boy> captain of the team. Then that boy, that boy felt regarded, he felt he could give his best and he began, not only to behave better, but to improve in everything. This seems very important to me in education – very important. Among our students there are some who come for sports and not so much for the sciences and others are better in art rather than in mathematics, and others <are better> in philosophy than in sports. A good teacher, educator or coach knows how to stimulate the good qualities of his pupils and not neglect the others. And there is the pedagogical phenomenon that is called transfer: doing something good and pleasingly, the benefit is transferred to the other. To see where I give more responsibility, where one likes it more, and one will do well. And it is always good to stimulate, but children also have the need to enjoy themselves and to sleep. To educate only, without the area of gratuitousness isn’t good.
And I end with this. There is an awful phenomenon in education in these times, which worries me” bullying. Please . . . [hint of applause] No, no! I haven’t finished yet. Please, for the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation, promise the Lord that you will never do this and never allow that it be done in your college, in your school, in your district. Understood?
Young people: Yes! [Loud applause] Pope Francis: You promise me: never, never make fun of, never mock a school companion of the district . . . Do you promise this, today?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: The Pope isn’t happy with the answer . . . Do you promise this?
Young people: [Very loudly] Yes!
Pope Francis: Good. You have said this “yes” to the Pope. Now, in silence, think what an awful thing this is, and think if you are able to promise this to Jesus. Do you promise Jesus never to engage in bullying?
Young people: Yes!
Pope Francis: To Jesus.
Young people: [Loudly] Yes!
Pope Francis: Thank you. And may the Lord bless you! Congratulations to you [the youngsters who did the choreography in the field]: you were good!
Let us pray together: Our Father . . . [Blessing]
Pope Francis: Please, I ask you to pray for me. And before leaving, a question: with whom should we speak more at home?
Young people: With grandparents!
Pope Francis: Good! And you, parents, what must you do a bit more of with your children?
Parents: Play!
Pope Francis: Play. And you educators, how must you carry education forward, with what language? With that of the head, with that of the heart and with that of the hands!
Thank you and farewell!
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester] At the end of the meeting at 7:00 pm, the Holy Father went to the Milan-Linate airport from where, at 7:40 pm, he exchanged farewells with those that received him in the morning, before departing to Rome.

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