Here is a ZENIT working translation of the text of the video-message that the Holy Father Francis sent to the participants in the 3rd World Meeting of Young People, organized by the “Scholas Occurrentes” Foundation together with World Ort, underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina from October 29 to November 1, 2018.
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The Holy Father’s Video-Message
Dear Young People of Scholas, gathered here today:
I want to celebrate with you this feast of encounter — encounter of persons: each one of you is a person. <It’s> an encounter of different creeds, countries, languages and realities, an encounter of different identities, because to encounter one another, one must be sure of one’s identity.
You can’t negotiate your identity to encounter the other; you can’t make up your identity, you can’t disguise it, because life isn’t a carnival; it’s something very serious. And an encounter must be serious, with much joy, but serious from the heart.
The word identity isn’t easy. And it’s the question: “Who am I”? And it’s one of the most important questions one can ask oneself: before oneself, before others, before God, before history. Who am I?
It’s the question that goes together with the question on the meaning of life; who am I and what meaning does my life have? However, be careful, it’s not a question to shake off, or to answer rapidly or to forget. It’s a question to have always, always. And to keep it open, to keep it close: Who am I?
Our identity isn’t a fact that is given, it’s not a factory number; it’s not information that I can look for on the Internet to know who I am. We aren’t something totally defined, established. We are on the way; we are growing, and that nucleus of identity keeps growing, growing, and we are walking, we are growing with our own style, with our own history, with our own nucleus of identity. We are witnesses, we are writers and readers of our life, and we’re not the only authors: we are what God dreams for us, what we tell ourselves, what we tell ourselves again, what others tell us, so long as we are faithful. Faithful to our personal integrity, faithful to our interior nobility, faithful to a word of which people are afraid: faithful to coherence. There are no laboratory identities, there aren’t any. Every identity has a history and, having a history, it has belonging. My identity comes from a family, from a people, from a community. You can’t speak of identity without speaking of belonging. Identity is to belong, to belong to something that transcends one, something that is greater than you.
The danger, so present in these times, is when an identity forgets its roots, forgets from where it comes, forgets its history, doesn’t open to the difference of present-day coexistence; sees the other with fear, sees him as an enemy, and war starts there. Suffice it to pick up the newspaper each day or see the news on television: a small war at the beginning, almost imperceptible, but great and terrible at the end. Therefore, for identity not to become violent, not to become authoritarian, not to become a denier of the difference, it needs permanently an encounter with the other, it needs dialogue, it needs to grow in every encounter and it needs the memory of its own belonging.
What are my roots? From where do I come? What is the culture of my people? There are no abstract identities. Well, there is one, which is one’s identity card, which is a paper, but it’s no good, it doesn’t make you grow. At most, it will leave you calm when someone from Security asks you for it: “OK, fine, go.” There aren’t any laboratory identities, or still identities. Who am I? Let each of us ask himself again. Let us be recreated on the way, let us grow on the way, with the memory, with dialogue, with belonging and with hope. And thus, we will enrich ourselves more every day.
Identity is belonging. Please, take care of it; take care of your belonging. Don’t let yourselves be conned. Take care of your belonging. And then, when we see people among us who don’t respect anything . . . How often we hear it said: “Don’t trust him, he would even sell his mother.” Each one should ask himself: Do I sell my belonging? Do I sell the history of my people? Do I sell the culture of my people? Do I sell the culture and what I received from my family? Do I sell the coherence of life? Do I sell the dialogue with a brother, even if he has different ideas, or do a feign dialogue? Don’t sell that which is deepest of us, which is our belonging, our identity and <the fact that> on the way different identities are encountered to enrich us mutually. Fraternity is built.
I want to thank all those who made this meeting possible: each ones’ parents and docents, for permitting and accompanying it; Authorities, for opening the door and making the experience possible; the Bort schools and all the Religious Communities for enriching, from diversity, the story of this meeting and of each one. And I thank you, young people of Scholas, for letting life <write> you a new chapter with each step. Don’t be afraid of that, of having the courage to mix your languages, of opening your stories without renouncing them, of letting yourselves be re-written by the other, by the different one, by the unknown one — always, always different and, at the same time, being increasingly more yourselves, and making of your identity, of that belonging that you received, a work of art. It’s what I wish for you.
And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you.[Original text: Spanish] [ZENIT’s Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]