On Sunday afternoon Pope Francis addressed participants in the “4th International Congress of Scholas Occurrences,” which began on Friday in Vatican City and in Rome, and ended later on Sunday.
Part of the meeting was dedicated to the 30 youths selected among the thousands that took part in Scholas’ projects on citizenship, and the other part to a hundred University students and professionals, which was held in the Pius IV Casina in the Vatican.
Announced during the meeting also was that the next “Game of Peace” will take place on June 10 in Argentina, on the occasion of the country’s bicentenary. Therefore, they presented the Pope with an olive tree, to be blessed, which will be planted before the sports event. The Holy Father was also given a soccer ball, which he handed to some players who were there.
Scholas Ocurrentes – now a papal foundation – is a Worldwide Network of Schools for Meeting, which were born inspired by Pope Francis to promote the linking of the world’s schools, with shared projects for those with fewer resources. It began when Bergoglio was Archbishop of Buenos Aires with the “Neighbors’ Schools” and the “Sister Schools.”
Before the Pope’s arrival, three famous actors — George Clooney, Salma Hayek and Richard Gere — talked about education and values. Later they received a decoration with medals bearing the symbol of the olive tree of peace.
On his arrival, the Pontiff said he hoped that an atmosphere of “communication, bridge and meeting” had prevailed in the Congress, which is a challenge for this world that is running the risk of being atomized and separated.” The Holy Father pointed out that when nations and friends separate, hatred and enmity can easily be sown; instead, when they meet, a culture of friendship is born, which is the opposite of the throwaway culture.
Maria Paz Jurado, one of the coordinators, had with her, over the three days, 30 youths from the five continents. Sana Ali, of the Arab Emirates, mentioned the difficulties and hopes seen at the conference. Nahuel Moreno, a youth of the Argentine province of Salta, highlighted the importance of having communicated, overcoming languages differences and distances. And, in a moving story, young Mexican Ariana Licet Nunez spoke of the problem of bullying, which she suffered personally.
Responding to the question “if he ever thought of leaving <the papacy> because it is too great a responsibility,” the Holy Father said “it never occurred to me that they were going to elect me,” but that at that moment he felt profound peace.
He went on to say that the building of a better world can be summarized in what was discussed, “that each person is recognized in his/her identity,” adding that “the personality needs to belong,” that a person without identity has no future, and that it is necessary to have identity, of whatever kind it is.
It is not enough to talk, necessary also is the languages of gestures, “a pat, a smile that gives hope, looking into the other’s eyes and gestures of approval and hope,” added the Pontiff.
Bullying is an aggression that conceals profound cruelty, like wars, said the Pontiff, who added that a nun in an African country enduring civil wars, “sent me photos that I have here” of events “that happened last month.” A child was decapitated! It’s the same cruelty!
Therefore, the Holy Father called for the “uprooting of all types of cruelty, explaining that one must have the capacity to listen to the other, not to argue immediately. When there is dialogue both win. “Do not argue but persuade with gentleness,” he said.
Carina Rosa and Daniel Sigliano, also coordinators of these initiatives, described Scholas’ teaching posts and the proposal to unite the wisdom of the Universities to the projects that Scholas receives. So they presented to the Holy Father the commitments that the 37 Universities assumed with Scholas’ teaching posts to develop an expert consultancy of at least one of Scholas’ projects during one year, 17 of them of America, 2 of Africa, 2 of Asia and 16 of Europe.
Among the participants in the Congress, six persons of different creeds prepared an interreligious moment. In addition, a group of Scholas Arts played musical instruments and sang, and gave the Holy Father a violin made with the techniques of the first Jesuits. They also mentioned that they took an olive tree to the North Pole as a symbol of Scholas , and two surfers asked the Pope to sign their boards.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Translation of the Pope’s words during the meeting: https://zenit.org/articles/text-of-popes-address-at-meeting-with-scholas-occurrentes/